Orange harvesting has started in Aydin, a Turkish south western city which is one of the most important citrus production areas in the country. As citrus producers lost a great amount of mandarins earlier this year, due the Mediterranean fruit fly, they made an early start to the harvest in order to maintain the product's quality.
Ahmet Kurban, a farmer who started to harvest oranges in Aydin's Kuyucak district complained about the failure to initiate a farmer-owned co-operative last year and the fact that they still have to pay intermediaries. He said that they sell oranges for only 0,3 Lira (5 cents) per kilogram and in the farmers market this goes up to 1,5 to 2 Lira (0,25 to 0,33 Euro).
Even though orange trees yielded a good harvest this year, Ahmet Kurban expressed his dissatisfaction about the conditions that are both difficult and expensive. Kurban said that relying on the weather forecasts, they started the harvest earlier than usual. Pointing out to the potential impact of cold weather on citrus, Kurban said: "We began harvesting oranges to avoid the potential damage during freezing weather when the temperatures drop to below zero degrees celsius (0 °C). Currently prices range from 0,30 to 1 Lira (5 cents to 0,16 Euro). These prices are too low for producers to make a living."
"Input cost is increasing every year but prices are fixed"
Elmas Yaprak is a producer who also complains about the situation. Saying that farmers' living conditions are getting worse and worse, Yaprak explained that the bulk price for oranges per kilogram was 1,5 Lira (0,25 Euro) over the last years and that now it is only 0,5 Lira (8 cents). "Our costs are steadily increasing, however the price for the product is decreasing. We deserve to be paid 1,5 Lira (0,25 Euro). It is odd to see that the product that we sell for 0,5 Lira (8 cents) is sold in the farmers market for 2 to 2,5 Lira (0,33 to 0,41 Euro). Although we produce Turkey's best oranges, we suffer from this situation. In Turkey, intermediaries always win. This system needs to come to an end."
There is also a demand for Turkish oranges in foreign markets. Oranges from Aydin are exported mainly to Russia and to the rest of the world.