Turkish agriculture has taken on a more export-oriented focus in recent times. Similarly, stone fruit producers have expanded their orchards and planted varieties that are suitable for export markets. Turkey is one of the world’s leading cherry (both sweet and sour varieties) producers and exporters. Total cherry production is forecast to increase to 865,000 tons in the 2019/20 season, of which 678,000 tons is sweet cherry, according to the Turkish Statistics Institute (TurkSTAT). Yields and quality are generally satisfactory this year. Weather conditions caused a delay to harvesting in most regions. Total cherry planting area is around 106,000 ha, similar to last year.
There are more than one hundred varieties of sweet cherries produced in Turkey. The 0900 Ziraat variety, also known as a Turkish Napoleon, was developed in Turkey and is the most popular variety because it meets the characteristics demanded by export markets. However, producers have started to try new cherry varieties such as Sweet Heart, Celeste, Kordia, Regina and Sunburst for higher quality products, later harvest (to capture higher prices later in the season) and higher yields.
Turkey’s total peach and nectarine production for 2019/20 is expected to rise 5% to 830,000 tons, according to data published by the Turkish Statistics Institute (TurkSTAT). Yields and quality are generally considered satisfactory thanks to favourable weather conditions. Planting area for peach continues to expand with a focus on export markets and the juice industry, and now stands at 46,400 ha. Indeed, Turkey is among the world’s top-ten exporters of peaches and nectarines. The most common peach varieties in Turkey are Early Amber, Spring Crest, May Crest, Red Haven and Early Red. The Turkish season runs from April to early October
Peach and nectarine production for processing is forecast at 135,000 tons in 2019/20, around 15% of all peach production. The Turkish juice industry is growing at about six% annually (for all fruit juices). Turkey exports more than 250,000 tons of stone fruits annually, mainly to the EU and Russia.
Turkey has invested heavily in greenhouse infrastructure and is now able to produce and export tomatoes all year round. Turkey’s tomato exports were worth US$603.6 million in 2018, but the country’s agricultural sector aims to break the $1 billion barrier. Fresh tomato exports were the main product ($292 million), followed by tomato paste ($164 million), dried tomato ($88 million), frozen tomatoes ($39.4 million) and tomato sauces ($16.3 million).
The main market for Turkish tomatoes was its neighbour Romania, with exports worth $43.7 million, followed by Russia ($30.6 million) and Ukraine ($25.6 million). Iraq is the top market for Turkey’s tomato paste exports ($111 million). As for Turkey’s dried tomato exports, the US was the number-one destination, ($19.5 million), followed by Italy ($13.3 million) and Germany ($9.5 million).
Last February, local municipalities of several Turkish cities launched direct sale points to balance sharp growth of consumer foodstuff prices, offering agricultural products to average consumers at an affordable price. The direct sale points were established as part of the Treasury and Finance Ministry’s counter- inflation campaign. The Turkish economy has been tackling high inflation for the last year. Consumer prices peaked in October and hit 25.24 percent. In February, inflation fell below the 20 percent threshold for the first time since September. Sustainable tight monetary policy, fiscal discipline and other measures such as direct sale points have made a major contribution to the improvement in the inflation rate.
The sale points, launched to circumvent intermediaries, have seen widespread demand from citizens. Some 30,000 tons of goods, including 15,000 tons of fresh fruits and vegetables and 15,000 tons of grains and legumes have been sold. With the start of vegetable sales at municipal direct sale points, prices in wholesale vegetable markets and supermarket chains dropped by half.
Stating that sales have so far reached 111 points in eight cities, Fahrettin Poyraz, general manager of the Agricultural Credit Cooperatives of Turkey, said the practice was initiated in order to avoid the rambling price increases in the market. “We are not saying we will sell every product. We will only sell products that have seen an exorbitant price increase,” he added. “After launching our sales, large markets also decreased their prices,” he continued, adding that the project has accomplished its objectives.
In addition, the state-run postal service, Turkish Post and Telegraph Organization’s (PTT) online marketplace www.epttavm.com has also started selling vegetables.
Local authorities in Turkey are to start selling vegetables and fruits to combat the country’s food inflation. Speaking at an event organised by the Turkish Exporters’ Assembly (TİM), finance minister, Berat Albayrak, identified inflation as one of the vulnerabilities of the Turkish economy and said the government is fighting with determination. According to the latest official data, food prices increased by 6.4% in January from the previous month, and the annual increase was 30.7%. Last month, fresh vegetable and fruit prices jumped 29.7% on a monthly basis, while the annual rise for those items was 64%.
Meanwhile, state-run bank Ziraat Bankasi will unveil a package designed to support greenhouse farming, with loans at low interest rates subsidies. “With this support, we will witness the fast transformation [of greenhouse farming]. Geothermal resources will be used in an effective way to that end. The state, which will also play an active role in this field, will become a strategic investor in greenhouse farming,” Albayrak said.
Turkey’s fresh produce exports have been given a sizeable boost this year by the end to the conflict with Russia. In the first four months of 2018, exports climbed 25% compared to the same period in 2017, reaching US$794 million, according to the Uludag Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Exporters’ Association (UYMSIB). In volume terms, 1.6 million tons of fresh fruit and vegetables were exported, representing a rise of 17%.
Exports to Russia rocketed by 125%, from US$90 million to $202 million. Total shipments to Russia went up by 91% to around 315,000 tons. These exports to Russia contributed 70% of Turkey’s increase in revenue in the four-month period. Exports to the EU were also up, with Turkish goods gaining access to new markets such as the Scandinavian countries.
Following a military altercation between the two countries in January 2016, Russia banned imports of Turkish fruits and vegetables including tomatoes, oranges, apples, apricots, cabbage, broccoli, mandarins, pears, peaches, cucumbers, plums, strawberries, onions, and cloves, and also poultry.
Russia’s agriculture safety watchdog said on March 28 that it is to allow tomato imports from two more Turkish firms as of March 29. This will take to twelve the number of Turkish producers authorised to supply tomatoes to Russia. The Turkish finance minister, Nihat Zeybekci has said her government is absolutely against Russia’s setting of limits and has threatened to respond in kind. In October 2017, Russia agreed to lift its restrictions on the import of Turkish tomatoes. However, Moscow has continued to implement import quotas.
Growtech Eurasia, Turkey’s biggest exhibition and among the world’s leading agriculture shows, takes place at Antalya Expo Center November 30 – December 3 with more than 700 national and international participants and a target of 80,000 visitors.
The Growtech Eurasia 16th International Greenhouse, Agricultural Equipment and Technologies Fair creates an average business volume of $550 million a year. It provides participants and visitors an opportunity to reach markets ranging from European and Balkan countries to those in the Middle Eastern, Northern African and the Turkic Republics.
In a press release, organiser UBM EMEA said one of the most important needs for Turkey – which it said is now number one in Europe and seventh globally in agricultural manufacture – is for its manufacturers to get the prices they deserve.
“Farmers and major agricultural manufacturers have done their parts in the best way despite hard conditions such as natural disasters and economic processes. Our agricultural manufacture, which was worth 205 billion TL in 2014, has reached up to 248.5 billion TL with a rise of 21.2%.
UBM EMEA (Istanbul) Group Director Engin Er said Growtech Eurasia is helping Turkey act as the leader in its region on agricultural manufacture and to be a global actor worldwide.
“Moreover, Growtech Eurasia is a common knowledge sharing platform where the high end technology and innovations regarding the agricultural industry are shared. We offer our manufacturers both alternative market opportunities and innovative solutions and technologies that shall increase their productivity,” he said.
“We are a Turkish company established in 2000 for bioproducts production,” said Bioglobal managing director Ozgur Ates.
“We manufacture microbial fertilisers and plant protection bioproducts. They contain minerals and vegetables extracts, therefore are ecologically friendly.”
A couple of years ago, Eurobioglobal, company’s subsidiary in Spain, was opened.
The companies also sell beneficial insects and are introducing modern international technologies into Turkish and Spanish markets.