Anamur, Mersin, a city in southern Turkey, meets 40% of the domestic demand for bananas. This year, banana producers in the district expect a yield of 250 thousand tons. Anamur Banana Producers Union's (MUZBIR) President Hasan Catkaya announced that the production of bananas in Turkey will increase from 500 thousand tons to 650 thousand tons and that the country will stop importing bananas next year.
Following the harvest in greenhouses, bananas are transported to processing facilities. First they are washed, packed and then they ripen for 7 days. Producers sell bananas for 5 to 5,3 Turkish Lira (0,79 to 0,84 Euro) and the price goes up to 9,5 to 11 Turkish Lira (1,51 to 1,75 Euro) in supermarket shelves.
MUZBIR President Catkaya stated that Turkey consumes 650 thousand tons of bananas per year of which 250 thousand tons come from Anamur, 250 thousand tons come from various cities in Turkey and the remaining 150 thousand tons are imported.
"10-fold increase in 10 years"
Catkaya added: "Our banana farmers have made a profit for the past 5 years. The production is rapidly increasing. Even though there was a 10-fold increase in banana production in the past 10 years, wholesalers and packaging workers don't earn much."
"There is a lot of demand"
President Catkaya contended that supermarkets sell imported bananas that have a longer shelf life instead of domestic ones that are tastier, and this leaves banana producers in a difficult situation.
"The shelf life of our local bananas is 15 days, whereas, imported bananas last for 2 months. Their shelf life is extended by chemicals. We don't claim that these chemicals are unhealthy, but beneficial bacteria decrease in every product with an extended shelf life. Our citizens have bought imported bananas for 30-35 years but they've only started to notice the special taste of local bananas for the past couple of years. There is a lot of demand for domestic bananas, however supermarkets prefer imported bananas due to their longer shelf life. Supermarkets in big cities don't sell domestic bananas."
"99% organic fertilizers"
Catkaya said that in Turkey the number of banana orchards has increased for the past 5-6 years and continued: "Banana gardens abroad grow bananas for 35-40 years. These gardens are overused. They are fed by chemicals. In our gardens, we use 99% organic fertilizers."
"Next year we will reach 650 thousand tons"
"In Turkey, we produce 500 thousand tons of bananas. Next year, we will increase this to 650 thousand tons. Local bananas will completely cover domestic demand. We don't expect an increase in prices. They will remain stable as they were for the past two years."
"We need to protect our small producers"
Catkaya went on to say that Anamur has produced healthy bananas for 5 years now and that there has been no migration from Anamur to urban areas. "Healthy production started 4-5 years ago and this trend will continue. 90% of Anamur's population work in banana or strawberry production. Almost everyone has a small greenhouse of 0,5 to 0,1 hectare in front of their houses. Thanks to bananas and greenhouse production, people stay in Anamur. Therefore, we need to protect our small producers."
Source: IHA (Umutcan İsledici)