Istanbul, 29 July 2020: About 70 percent of Bhutan’s population lives in rural areas, with most depending on subsistence agriculture, with an average farm size of 1.7 hectares. With much of Bhutan too steep, too high or too cold to farm, only 8 percent of land is cultivable with many smallholder farmers mainly cultivating maize, rice, and vegetables for their own subsistence. Smallholder farmers also face other constraints, including the small size of landholdings, limited access to irrigation, poor soil fertility, limited access to technologies and inputs, poor access to markets and high transport costs.
As Bhutan's first 100 percent foreign direct investment company, Mountain Hazelnuts’ mission was to create a profitable business that provided long-term income for vulnerable rural communities. While hazelnuts are indigenous to the country, they had not traditionally been cultivated for commercial purposes. Mountain Hazelnuts has established fully traceable hazelnut production, boosting Bhutan’s exports and providing income-generating opportunities for 15 percent of the population. They integrated more than 5,000 women-led farming households into their value chain, while providing growers and with trees, inputs and technical knowledge. At full production, Bhutan aims to supply 3 percent of the global US $7 million market for hazelnuts.
As a Business Call to Action (BCtA) member company, Mountain Hazelnuts participated in BCtA’s Impact Champions Programme via BCtA’s Impact Lab, to understand the impact the company’s work has had on hazelnut growing communities, business operations along the hazelnut value chain, as well as the environment.
The Impact Lab provides an end-to-end impact management solution for inclusive businesses. It helps companies develop a Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs)-focused impact framework for data collection, analysis and reporting, and is designed to help companies drive business value while delivering impact by understanding, proving, and improving their contributions to the SDGs.
Selected BCtA member companies partake in the Impact Champions Programme to undertake impact measurement and management with an SDGs lens, where they are provided with training and hands-on support from BCtA.
In 2018, Mountain Hazelnuts conducted a baseline survey to better understand key characteristics of the overall farming community, as well as its key stakeholder group of hazelnut growers. Building upon this, Mountain Hazelnuts' participation in the Impact Champions Programme allowed them to design a complete impact management framework to enable improved decision-making and drive value for its business and stakeholders.
As a result, Mountain Hazelnuts found that cultivating hazelnuts is the first exposure of most growers to caring for tree crops. As such, this has led to an increased focus on field staff teaching growers good orchard management practices, including planting, fencing, weeding, irrigation, mulching, pruning and harvesting.
Since completing the programme, “Mountain Hazelnuts is even more committed to impact measurement and management as it supports their reporting to investors, donors and other stakeholders, and to serve as a model for other social impact enterprises,” said Teresa Law, Co-Founder and Chief Financial Officer of Mountain Hazelnuts.
To read about Mountain Hazelnut’s impact measurement and management journey download the case study below: