Banana production has started to become more and more common in the Silifke town of Mersin, a city located in southern Turkey. Silifke is actually better known for its strawberry production but growers there noticed that there was a supply shortage of 400,000 bananas in the domestic market which was usually fulfilled by imports. Now they want to fill this demand with local production.
Apart from strawberries, tomato production is also very common in the area but growers are now exploring alternative products which are viable to grow in their greenhouses. The first banana production started 3 years ago in the area and now there are 320 hectares of banana greenhouses where 25,000 tons of bananas are grown annually. The productivity is around 8 to 10 tons per 1,000 square meter and the cost per 1,000 square meter is around 7,000 – 7,500 USD. The sale price at the grower is around 0,50 – 0,55 USD per kg.
Most of the growers make use of long term, low interest agricultural credits to set up their greenhouses.
State official and agricultural engineer Mehmet Yasar: “ Banana production in our area has increased immensely in the last 3 years and the banana production area is now 30 times greater. This is a remarkable achievement and could have significant benefits for the national economy. Right now our country is importing 400,000 tons of bananas annually and this is money we could keep within the country if we can increase our production. The quality of bananas from our region is easily comparable and even better than imported bananas.
We only have some problems about production costs which are too high for our growers. If the state can offer some incentive programs to lessen the cost burden on the growers, the production can increase even much more.
We are also working hard with the growers to increase productivity per 1,000 square from the current level of 8 tons to 12 -13 tons which is an achievable goal with some improvements in production methods and some changes in production planning. Our growers grow other products in banana greenhouses as they do not want to tie all of their business to one product, but if we can convince them to grow bananas year around, they will have 12 – 13 tons of production per 1,000 square meter.
We believe that this area will be soon start to be known for its banana production in addition to strawberry production because the climate conditions and soil are very suitable for banana production.
In Southeastern Turkey, another grower is attempting to grow bananas in the Gevas district of Van. The grower is currently growing tomatoes and vegetables in a production area of 120 hectares and 6 hectares of greenhouses. The grower has been setting an example for other growers in the region in expanding product varieties and he managed to grow products such as strawberries, which were previously deemed not viable to grow in the area. Now he wants to start banana production next year in 2 greenhouses he is setting up specifically for this project. The grower is producing all of his products with organic methods and uses exporters in Mersin to export his products.