Women Entrepreneur of Hazelnuts
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Maka buys nuts from local farmers. She selects, sorts, and exports them to Europe and Russia.
"People often tell me: you got those for a certain price because you’re a woman. That’s not the case – men are not better at this job than me, "says Khurtsilava.
"After we buy the nuts, we send them to be dried, then sorted, then cracked open" - explains Mr. Belkania, the shop operator.
Women sort broken nuts by hand. Assorted nuts are put in bags and prepared for shipment.
Nutshells are used as fuel for the drying machine. Local people also use nutshells as fuel to heat their homes in the winter.
Small factories like Super Nuts Ltd. typically have equipment made by local craftsmen instead of having it imported.

Large manufacturers like the G.N. Company have their sorting and crushing equipment brought from Turkey.

Super Nuts now has 18 employees, most of whom are women. A typical work day lasts from 9am to 6pm and pays 12GEL.

Manon Jghamaia has been in the field for over 10 years and is one of the most experience workers. Manon says that sorting the nuts is not difficult work, but unfortunately it is only seasonal.

In Zugdidi and the surrounding villages, there are now a few hundred nut processing factory of varying sizes operating.

Robert Jajava has lived on the same street in Zugdidi for 34 years. He remembers the first factory being built here 10 years ago and says that the number is steadily rising.

"My wife works in a nut factory. Almost all the women who live here are in this industry... Men also work in the industry, but in fewer numbers. Women don’t have to take transportation to work and they are allowed to go home during on their break. They take home between 300-350GEL per month," says Jajava.

Vazha Karaia, who lives near Zugdidi in a small village named Ingiri, started cultivating nuts 15 years ago

"In the past, I sold nuts for 1 GEL or 80 tetri [per kilo]. A few years ago, factories here started selling nuts abroad and the price has gone up, " he says.

Vazha Currently has 2.5 hectares of land, with 1300 trees that yield 3-4 tons of nuts annually.
"Many people think that the nut cultivation is easy, but it's not. Tending the garden, using pesticides and fertilizers, yearly upkeep... Also a lot depends on the weather. Sometimes I need to hire 10-15 people daily to cope with all the work during harvest season."
Chai Khana
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