Step-by-step, here's how Mountain Hazelnuts works with thousands of small-scale farmers to produce high-quality hazelnuts in the mountains of Bhutan.
Step 1: Reproduce a large volume of high-quality and vigorous hazelnut seedlings
Mountain Hazelnuts has partnered with a world-class laboratory to produce hazelnut plantlets from tissue culture micro-propagation, in a safe, controlled environment. This enables rapid reproduction of those hazelnut varieties – 100% non-GMO - that have been selected as optimal for the environments where they will be planted. Tiny plantlets are transported to the Company’s central nursery in Lingmethang, Mongar District.
Step 2: Raise young plants in the world’s largest hazelnut nursery
After arriving in the nursery, young plants spend 3-12 months under the careful supervision of horticultural experts. Each plant is traceable from the beginning, with the team monitoring its progress and development.
Step 3: Distribute young trees to thousands of farmers
The Outreach team helps potential farmer partners to understand the opportunities and challenges of raising a hazelnut orchard. Next, Field Monitors evaluate the property of each interested farmer, and if a farmer does not have suitable orchard land, the Company helps secure appropriate planting sites through the lease of government land or arrangements with local landowners. The Distribution team transports trees to nearby locations, and farmers carry the trees to their orchards. Field Monitors advise on orchard layout, provide training on planting and cultivation, and support farmers during the planting process.
Step 4: Support farmers in growing a new crop
Field Monitors inspect every tree in each farmer’s field every 30-45 days during the early years of cultivation, providing insights on when to irrigate, how to control pests, and what signs of health to look for. They gather extensive horticultural and environmental data and build detailed electronic records that provide full traceability (to date, tree survival rates are above 90%), while the Regional Extension Officers provide technical assistance and agricultural expertise.
Step 5: Aid farmers in harvesting and drying nuts, then buy nuts
Trees begin fruiting after 3–5 years of growth. Farmers harvest and field dry the nuts, with guidance from Mountain Hazelnuts. The farmers then carry the nuts to convenient collections centers, where Mountain Hazelnuts purchases them.
Step 6: Process hazelnuts in-country, adding value and creating jobs
Hazelnuts must be cleaned, dried, size-separated, and lab-tested before sale. Mountain Hazelnuts' nut processing facility is under development close to headquarters in Lingmethang, Eastern Bhutan. From there, healthy, fully traceable nuts will be exported.