Strawberry producers in Silifke aim to boost exports amid Russia difficulties
MERSİNStrawberry producers in the Silifke district of the southern province of Mersin, home to 40 percent of the strawberry production in Turkey, are hoping to increase their exports, which have been decreasing for the last couple of years particularly due to difficulties in the Russian market.
The region produces 80,000 tons of strawberry per year, Silifke Strawberry Producers Association head Mehmet Yasar Çalmaşur told state-run Anadolu Agency, noting that Turkey is in fourth place in strawberry production in the world.
“We used to send a lot of strawberries abroad until a few years ago but recently our exports have reduced.
We exported strawberries to Russia, Hungary, Ukraine, Poland, Iran and Iraq, even to Italy, but unfortunately for the last two or three years we have mainly been selling our produce to the domestic market, while still making some exports to Iraq and Ukraine,” Çalmaşur said.
He added that the lifting of the exports ban to Russia has not helped them because it came at the end of the production season.
“We have been producing industrial strawberries more for the exports to the Russian market, but it is cheap and the producers cannot make money. The cost of producing strawberries on 1,000 square meters of land has increased to 9,500 Turkish Liras. The price should be at least 2.5 liras to make a profit but it is currently around 2 liras so the producers are losing money,” Çalmaşur stated, adding that at the moment 80 percent of the production is finished and a small part continues.
“For the last couple of years producers have started to search for alternative products due to the decrease of exports. Some of them have gone to tomatoes and some to others. Strawberry production needs sacrifices both financially and as labor,” he said.
Çalmaşur said approximately 70 percent of Silifke’s population rely on strawberry production to make a living and the production will increase with rising exports.
“We can use the advantage of Turkey, as this is the region where the first harvest of the fruits is made,” he said.
“The Turkic republics, Russia, Poland, Hungary, Iran, Iraq and Syrian markets are enough for us. We want to boost our exports to those markets,” he added.