The Agriculture of Antalya and Turkey Introduced to International Agricultural Journalists Hosted by Growtech

Hosted by the world’s biggest exhibition for the greenhouse industry, Growtech, and organized in cooperation with the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists (IFAJ), and the Agricultural Writers and Journalists Association (TAGYAD) in Antalya, 35 agricultural journalists from 21 countries attended the panel ‘Agriculture of Antalya and Turkey’, on the first day of “European and Balkan Countries Agricultural Journalists Forum”. The panel discussed state of things for agriculture of Antalya and Turkey and its potential, magnitude and progress, where international journalists had the chance to address to experts all their key concerns about agriculture of Turkey, mainly of Antalya.

On the eve of Growtech, 19th International Greenhouse, Agricultural Technology and Livestock Equipment Fair to be organized in Antalya between November 27 and 30, 2019, the “European and Balkan Countries Agricultural Journalists Forum” was launched with the attendance of 35 agricultural writers from 22 member countries of the “International Federation of Agricultural Journalists”, in association with the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists (IFAJ) and the Agricultural Writers and Journalists Association (TAGYAD) hosted by Growtech between November 4 and 8, 2019.

Organized on the first day of event, speakers of “Agriculture in Antalya and Turkey” panel include Messrs. Hakkı Bahar, the Head of the Western Mediterranean Exporters Union (BAIB), Cuneyt Dogan, Board Member of the Antalya Commodity Exchange (ATB) and Harun Ozturk, High Advisory Board Member of the Antalya Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ATSO) while Ismail Ugural, the Chairman of the Agricultural Writers and Journalists Association (TAGYAD) and agricultural writer acted as moderator.  

Collective Consciousness is a Must for Agriculture

Keynoting the unsustainability of human life without agricultural production, the panel was opened by Mr. Hakki Bahar, the Chairman of BAIB, who took the floor to mention that agriculture should not be reduced solely to an economic industry and continued: “Agriculture is a vital need that must be considered much more important than financial sector. Because agriculture must always be the most important industry not only for us or for our country but also for the entire world such that we need food to live. Every society has its own cultivation culture developed in their respective region. We have to claim and develop such culture, to create a collective consciousness, to address issues globally. Therefore, to claim agricultural industry is to claim our future”.

3 Facts of Antalya: Agriculture, Tourism and Trade

Opening his speech with the fact that vegetative production in Antalya consists of fruit and vegetable growing, greenhouse fruit and vegetable production, field crops production, ornamental plants production (cut flower) and medicinal and aromatic plants growing, Mr. Harun Ozturk, High Advisory Board Member of Antalya Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ATSO) underlined that 37% (283k) of greenhouse availability on 772k decares in Turkey is in Antalya and 81,4% of glass greenhouses and 52.5% of plastic greenhouses in Turkey are as well located in Antalya. Mr. Harun Ozturk also informed international agricultural writers and journalists about Antalya as follows: “According to 2018 data, 47% of greenhouse vegetable-fruit production in Turkey corresponds to Antalya production. Antalya’s share in greenhouse tomato production is 61,7%, in pepper production 55,8%, in eggplant production 49,5% and in cucumber production 45,4%. Besides, thanks to favorable conditions and rich agricultural potential, Antalya achieved 7,1 million tons of vegetable production, equaling to a 4% quantitative share in Turkey. Antalya is also a leading producer of mushroom and especially avocado in recent years in Turkey. I mean our Antalya is not only the capital of tourism but also of agriculture. However, we are well aware that production is not solely sufficient but trading and even branding are highly important. Therefore, we as ATSO call this the ‘3T’, i.e. “Agriculture, Tourism and Trade”. Real growth is possible if only these three facts are intertwined. We do produce projects and make efforts for this”.

Growtech Brings Turkish Agriculture to Forefront …

Emphasizing the capital importance of agricultural activities that have been maintained on these very soils for thousands of years and that all producers in Turkey pivoted their production on such culture and knowledge, Mr. Cuneyt Dogan, the Board Member of Antalya Commodity Exchange added that therefore, Growtech, the world’s biggest greenhouse agricultural industry exhibition, is not only important to Turkey but also to global agriculture and continued: “19th International Greenhouse, Agricultural Technology and Livestock Equipment Fair to be organized in Antalya between November 27 and 30, 2019 is an extremely important fair for Turkish agriculture. A busload of foreign exhibitors from other cities visit this fair. This fair, the number one in Turkey, broadens horizons for producers and for the entire industry, leading to substantial contribution to the development of this industry. Turkish farmers inherently follow latest developments and like doing researches with a raised awareness. Therefore, they seek novelties each year. They are capable of producing by changing demands specific to country and geographic conditions. In particular, the products with high export potential made a quantum leap in the recent years. For example, we made great accomplishment in local bananas. Importation is about to come to an end, with increasing exports. We now also have a corner on Californian pepper market, also known as salad pepper, which is highly demanded in the world yet not relatively demanded in our country. Likewise, our producers are now inclining to produce fruits with high economic value such as dragon fruit and avocado. We have the makings of following such innovative products, called niche or endemic products. And this makes both our Antalya and Turkish agriculture much stronger and competitive around the world and have a corner in the market”.

International Journalists Asked Their Questions about Turkish Agriculture …

International journalists had the chance to ask industry experts questions about the agriculture of Antalya and Turkey during the question-answer section of the panel, attended by 35 international agricultural writers from 21 countries including Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Israel, Japan, Canada, Finland, England, Netherlands, Belgium, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Austria, Scotland and France.

Panelists managed to give satisfactory answers to journalists’ questions particularly about food safety, agricultural production methods applied in Turkey, irrigation technology, exported countries, Turkey’s policy on increased input costs and even reflections of tension between US and China upon agricultural exports of Turkey. “We do not produce or export any fruit or vegetable which we do not eat or offer to our children” said Mr. Harun Ozturk, High Advisory Board Member of ATSO and added as regards to food safety applied in Turkish agriculture: “Turkey stands as a highly diligent country attaching great importance to and thus, investing in food safety. We implement good agricultural practices and agricultural applications about wasp and insect production. Besides, we produce under the controlling system and assurance of the Ministry of Agriculture. Every pesticide used is tracked by prescription system. No pesticide, as declared prohibited by EU, is used in our country”.

Indicating that increasing input costs are the major stumbling blocks to agricultural producers in our country, like to the entire world, Mr. Hakkı Bahar, the Chairman of BAIB answered the questions about input costs and exported countries with these words: “Unfortunately, geopolitical position, policy and natural disasters do directly affect the future, production and exportation of agricultural products in the country. The tornado incident experienced last year in our city has critically affected our greenhouse fruit-vegetable production. And turmoil in the Middle East during the recent years surely affect our exports. Even so, Antalya and thus, Turkey are quite advantageous due to its geopolitical position. Therefore, we have producers exporting to many countries around the world since we pay great care to high-quality and safe foods. The tension between China and the United States affects not only us but also many other countries around the world. For example, China is a significant importer in cherry production. We also have a good brand of cherry. China likes and buys our cherries, too. We have delivered cherries even to 5 different cities of China this year. We have to act wisely and rationally at this point of international tension. Increasing the quality and escalating unit price instead of boosting production to meet China’s demands would be the best action to take so that we can survive any possible political factors without any impacts in production”.

Moderated by Mr. Ismail Ugural, the Chairman of the Agricultural Writers and Journalists Association (TAGYAD) and agricultural writer, the panel ended after emphasizing the fact that agriculture is currently the keystone industry of globalization and the ongoing struggle for existence throughout globalization.