Antalya farmer organizations protest Russia’s import restrictions by eating tomatoes
ANTALYA – Doğan News AgencyFarmer organizations in the southern province of Antalya on Aug. 14 protested Russian officials over their decision to not import fresh fruits and vegetables from Turkey, by eating tomatoes, in a bid to showcase its quality and hormone-free status.
Speaking at a press conference at an Antalya wholesale market, Nevzat Akcan, the head of the Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Commission Association, said they had waited for the re-opening of the Russian market ahead of the new season but were disappointed by negative statements from Moscow on the fresh fruit and vegetable imports.
However, he noted that Russia was not the only side responsible for the situation, while also criticizing measures taken by Turkish officials.
“Russia announced that it took such decision for the sake of improving its own agriculture. And we are also putting inconceivable practices to end our agriculture and completely remove our producers, commissioners and importers. We are opening the way for agricultural exports in a decision that would destroy our products and producers,” Akcan said.
“As all those negativities are happening, the end of the Russian market marked a death blow to the sector,” he added.
In addition, Antalya Chamber of Agriculture head Nazif Alp slammed criticisms suggesting that tomatoes were hormone-injected. Alp stated that they had used Bombus for years for tomatoes.
He also invited some academics to Antalya to examine their hormone claims, refuting the allegations.
Tradesman İsmail Erten, meanwhile, noted that cargo flights for agricultural purposes in the province had not been active yet, disabling their opportunity to reach the world market within a couple hours.
The farmers and the wholesale market staff later ate tomatoes to protest the measures by the officials of both countries.
Russia banned Turkish tomato imports after Turkey shot down a Russian jet near the Syrian border in 2015.
Ties between Ankara and Moscow have largely normalized since, although the ban remains in place.
Following the lifting of the sanctions, only two restrictions are left for Ankara, the issue of visa-free travel for Turkish citizens and tomatoes.