Turgut Musluoğlu, chairman of the Alanya Chamber of Agriculture, noted that farmers are focusing more on early season fruit production as they have been losing money from citrus fruit production for years. He stated that greengage plums and avocados bring more profit, adding that there is a significant demand for these fruits. Musluoğlu emphasized however that farmers would continue to produce tangerines to meet the demand at home and abroad.
Musluoğlu said the waning citrus fruit market needed government investments to keep its production alive in the area. Saying that Turkey produces 2.5 million tons of citrus fruits per year, he noted that farmers had difficulties because of unbalanced prices and other problems such as drought in recent years.
Furthermore, Musluoğlu said citrus production had once been Alanya's basic source of income, but now the construction and tourism sectors were becoming more dominant, adding that hotels were replacing orange tree orchards. "In 2006, 50,000 tons of citrus fruits were produced on 16,840 hectares of land in Alanya. The amount was actually 80,000 tons if unregistered production is included. But farmers did not make any profits, thus they won't produce citrus fruit this year," he said.
According to Muşluoğlu, the decreasing amount of exports is another reason that led to losses in the citrus fruit market. He emphasized that countries to which Turkey exports citrus fruit support their domestic producers more; thus these producers captured the markets where Turkish goods are sold at cheaper prices, harming producers back home.
"In order not to fall behind the competition, we began selling a product that normally costs YTL 0.35 for YTL 0.30. The citrus fruit market cannot handle such price cuts," he noted, arguing that they can survive only if they are given $100 government subsidies per ton.
Muşluoğlu also emphasized that unregistered production should be curbed. "Almost 50 percent of the citrus fruit is sold in bazaars never even reaches the fruit warehouse [for proper recording]. Incentives may [convince] the unregistered producers to register. The fact that unregistered producers are provided with consignment certificates also hurts the sector," he said.
İbrahim Bozyiğit, who has been producing citrus fruit for 14 years, is one of many farmers who decided to produce greengage plums and avocados. He also complained about lack of support from the government. "I won't produce citrus fruit anymore since I hardly earn enough to buy fertilizers and consistently sustain losses," he noted.
Another farmer, Osman Ertuğrul, said: "I have been producing citrus fruit for nine years. I had been making good profits until six years ago. I have been unable to meet my expenses for the last two years. When we realized that greengage plum and avocado production brings more profit, we also began to produce them."