Bodrum, a town located in the southwestern city of Mugla, is well known for its tourism as well as its mandarins. This year, the town hosted the 13th. mandarin festival in its Bitez neighborhood. The festival marked the first harvest of the year.
During the festival, which lasted for two days, people enjoyed collecting mandarins in the gardens. Producers and NGOs participated in the festival and offered consumers their mandarins and products made from mandarins.
Bekir Yilmaz, Bodrum's governor pointed out the risk facing the gardens and said: "Bodrum is not Bodrum without its mandarins. We need to protect our gardens."
The Bodrum mandarin is well known for its particular aroma, and the festival aims to create awareness and protect this product which is under threat by the increased urbanization in the area. Reyhan Bayindir Gonenc, a resident in Bodrum said: "I spent my childhood in Bodrum. I was raised in mandarin gardens and have seen many harvests. I hope the remaining gardens will be protected."
Mayor of Bodrum Municipality Mehmet Kocadon claimed that mandarin gardens are sold to contractors, therefore he encouraged residents to practice ecotourism in their gardens.
Ahmet Aras, a representative from Bodrum Trade Chamber said: "The main target of this festival is to protect our mandarin gardens that have both environmental and economic value. Recently, our gardens have seen a dramatic decrease in numbers. Unfortunately, they are taken over by the contractors to build houses. However we also have an irrigation problem. The scarce water in the peninsula poses a problem for growing mandarins. Besides, the difficulty in finding workers to collect mandarins and increased costs to maintain the gardens are among other problems that we face."