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Turkish growers work to keep figs chemical-free

There has been some concern recently in Turkey's fresh produce industry about the misapplication of a chemical on Turkish figs. Because fig exports are such an important part of the industry, growers, exporters and government officials have taken steps to ensure Turkish figs remain chemical-free.

“Turkey is number one in fig production and exportation, and there has been much activity to improve the quality of Bursa Black Figs, which are the most prevalent figs,” said Salih Cali of the Turkish Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Exporters' Association. “Most importantly, the issue of chemical residue has been a concern for everyone, and it's prompted action from growers, exporters, the Ministry of Agriculture and many other government and private institutions.”

The main issue that's worried the fig industry has been the presence of ethephon, a chemical that's used to regulate plant growth. The substance has been approved for use on tomatoes and cotton, but not for figs. The worry is that some growers might be incorrectly using the substance on figs or contaminating fig orchards that are in close proximity to fields being sprayed with the chemical.

“There have been meetings, announcements, education programs and projects put on by the Governor of Bursa to prevent the use of ethephon on Bursa Black Figs,” said Cali. “We've visited villages where the figs are grown, we've inspected figs to maintain good export quality, we've research and taught growers about new horticultural techniques and we've carried out technical projects on the issue.” The Exporters' Association has also participated in a television and radio campaign with a message centred around not growing figs with chemicals that are not appropriate for the crop. Cali believes these steps will ensure Turkey remains well-known for the quality of their Bursa Black Figs.

“For the present time, growers and exporters are very sensitive about ethephon and other chemicals,” said Cali. “All sides are making sure figs remain safe fruit, and everyone wants to make sure Bursa Black Figs are not threatened in this way again.”

For more information:
Dr. Salih Çalı
Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Exporters’ Associations

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