Aydin in Turkey occupies first place in the world for producing dried figs. Yet due to challenges in local manufacturing and marketing, competitors have now began to emerge. Israel and the USA have begun work on a fig variety which will be able to rival the Sari Lop grown in Aydin.
The Sari Lop is the preferred variety for dried figs and Aydin provides 70% of global dried fig yields. Agricultural engineer, Mesut Ozen from the Erbeyli Fig Breeding Research Institute of Genetics department, states that Turkey needs to perform research in order to maintain their leadership, as some countries are also working on the hybridisation of a fig variety to compete with the Sari Lop. Ozen claims that the Sari Lop is unique to Aydin, “But of course other countries are trying to find an alternative dried fig. In the USA and in Israel, they are performing hybridization and mutation studies. They have already gained fig varieties from these studies which have entered the markets. These could rival the Sari Lop or the Bursa Black in the future, we do not know when this will happen. For this reason, to stay a world leader in fig production, we need to perform research, or one day our position will pass on to someone else. This has already been experienced with melon, watermelons and tomatoes. We buy most of our seeds from abroad,” he said.
Speaking at a meeting of the Aydin Mercantile Exchange, Ozen expressed the need to work to overcome problems in fig production: “There are a lot of problems with fig cultivation. Planting, seedling selection, pruning, cultivating, harvesting, storing and exporting, are all experiencing problems. Despite these problems, Turkey is still a world leader and earns €181 million annually from dried figs.”