Farmers from Antalya tried to plant avocados half a century ago, and now avocado farming has an important commercial value. In fact, the production is expected to triple this year.
Here are some important milestones of the journey of avocados in Turkey:
1970: First avocados were brought to Turkey from California for trials within the scope of a FAO project.
1970 - 1983: Western Mediterranean Agricultural Research Institute (BATEM) continued to work on avocados.
1990s: 7 varieties of avocado were patented. First saplings were produced and thus cultivation of avocados started.
2000s.: Antalya produced 200 tons of avocados per year in 40 hectares. Avocado production exponentially increased. Since demand was rising, the production area reached 600 hectares.
2020: Antalya aims to produce 10.000 tons of avocados this year.
While the production per tree ranges from 40 to 45 kilos on average around the world, in Turkey this goes up to 50 to 60 kilos. Avocados that were once brought for trials half a century ago, have now became a major source of revenue for the farmers in the city.
"Our production will triple"
Mustafa Ozen, the head of Provincial Directorate of Agriculture and Forestry said that in BATEM 10.000 to 15.000 avocado saplings are produced per year and that farmers are very much interested in them.
The current production is nearly 5.000 tons per year, said Ozen. He emphasised that recently modern avocado orchards have been built and that in two to three years, they expect that the production of avocados will triple.
"We produce 81% of the avocados in Turkey. There is a great interest in avocados and we have no issues in terms of markets. We started to export them to Russia, Ukraine, Romania and European countries. Once we further increase our production, Turkish avocados will be more visible both in domestic and world markets." said Ozen.
Hilmi Sevilgen, the chairman of Alanya Avocado Producers' Association reminded that avocado did not have any commercial value before 2010 and that it now became an important product with a high economic value.
"In 2018, we produced 30 to 35 million avocados and this has reached to 40 million in 2019. We expect to produce 60 to 70 million avocados in 2020. Last year, we exported to 12 countries. We will expand our markets to 15-16 countries this year. Our goal is to export avocados to 20 countries." said Sevilgen.
"We name avocados as 'green gold'"
Atike Kaplan, an avocado producer for 18 years in the Gazipasa district, said that at first they didn't like the taste but then they got used to it.
"Now I consume it everyday for breakfast. Everybody likes it. There is an increased demand and traders buy them from us for 3 to 5 Turkish Lira (0.46 to 0.76 Euro). Avocado is easy to take care of and very profitable." Kaplan added.
Ilhan Kaplan, producer for 20 years said that avocados give their first fruits three years after planting. He said that one can earn 40.000 to 50.000 Turkish Lira (6.090 to 7.612 Euro) from an area of 0.1 hectare.
Kaplan mentioned that they eat avocados every meal and said: "First we didn't like the taste, but now we like it. It is very nice in breakfast and salads. We grow avocados very naturally, we only use water and fertiliser. We call it 'green gold'. It is very profitable."