Sultana seedless grape producers have asked for state support in order to export via air freight. Currently, producers export grapes to 40 countries. Their objective is to minimise the loss during transportation and increase exports to new markets such as the Far East.
Manisa, a city in western Turkey, is the major producer of Sultana grapes in Turkey. The harvest is expected to last until mid-December in Sarigol district. While exports continue, Sarigol Chamber of Agriculture's Chairman Ali Ihsan Ulgen announced that the chamber is ready to support producers in air freight transportation.
"Grapes are healthy"
Chairman Ulgen said that no chemicals are used on grapes and shared further details: "The harvest will continue until December 15. Currently, the prices are high. So far, the weather has been smooth and we haven't had frost yet. Today's harvest is destined to Istanbul. Istanbul is the biggest consumer in the country. I am asking consumers there, please consume these grapes without any worries. Agriculture engineers and the Provincial Directorate of Agriculture check our grapes. There are no problems. We don't use any chemicals and everything is under control. "
"We need to find new markets"
Emphasising that in Sarigol, the registered vineyards amount to 12.000 hectares, Ulgen said: "Actually, there are even more vineyards. We export grapes to at least 40 countries. Is it enough? No, not really. The solution is to find new markets. Our producers, our traders should reach out to the Far East. The state should support our traders. We could export to countries such as Malaysia, Singapore, the UK, Sweden, Norway, Finland and all Far Eastern countries. Selim Soylu, an entrepreneur, exported to Europe this year for the first time via air freight. I congratulate him for his entrepreneurship. Thanks to him, now we're reminded of the issue again. Our state should support air freight. I am representing 16.000 farmers and the state can get a stoppage of 2% from us. We would like to contribute as much as we can to support our farmers."
The demand for "air freight"
Selim Soylu, the above-mentioned entrepreneur who exported grapes to Europe for the first time this year via air freight said: "We sell our grapes to supermarkets, fruit sellers and farmers' markets. Everyone is satisfied with our product. The grape season starts as of June in Mersin and continues until mid-December. We don't need cold storages here because grapes are resistant against cold weather; temperatures down to 0 degrees celsius. Therefore we keep them in the vineyard until we collect them. Though, when we start collecting them all at once, Europe does not want to buy them due to damages in transportation. Then, our farmers make a loss. We would like to expand air freight transportation to all exporters. This way, we can decrease 15-hour transportation time to 4 hours via air freight. We demand support from the state. In Europe, the profits range on average from 300% to 400%. Our producers should benefit from this. If we can manage to shift our transportation to air freight, our farmers will gain an additional 1 to 1,5 Turkish Lira (0.16 to 0.24 Euro) per kilo."