08 Oct

Drought to seal fate of Turkey’s black gold

Drought adversely affected agriculture everywhere around the Mediterranean this year and vegetable production has suffered one of its worst seasons. Livelihood of millions in the Marmara and Aegean regions of Anatolia, olive production has dropped dramatically due to scourging heat.

The production of the olive, commonly described as “black gold” in many provinces across Anatolia’s Marmara and Aegean regions, has also fallen prey to drought and the Marmara Union of Olive Sale Cooperatives (MARMARABİRLİK), an umbrella organization for olive producers, is expecting a 75 to 80 percent decrease in this year’s yield. On the other hand, the union is expected to implement a quota of 6,000 tons for medium and small olives on its purchases because the harvest of such olives seems to have increased greatly. MARMARABİRLİK says the actual demand was much lower than their quota. “We just don’t want to aggrieve our farmers, so we have decided to buy some 1,500 tons more olives from farmers,” they claim. In the southern Marmara region, the expected olive harvest is a total 87,000 tons.

“We have eight cooperatives operating under our union. Only the İznik and Orhangazi cooperatives have olive orchards suitable for irrigation. Therefore, drought will be the primary factor in this year’s harvest,” said MARMARABİRLİK Chairman Refi Taviloğlu. “More than 75 percent of the entire production is expected to consist of small-sized grains. The producers are in real trouble.”

Taviloğlu told the Anatolia news agency yesterday that they had abandoned the application of “price in advance,” or the prepayment of olives at last year’s prices, that had met fierce opposition from member farmers. Instead, he said, they will buy olives at the eventual price, which will be announced as the campaign period for product purchases enters. Indeed, the prepayment method was much more suitable for the union in terms of continuing with operations while protecting its competitiveness, the chairman said.

MARMARABİRLİK may buy small and medium-sized olives over the quota only if the farmers agree to sell their products at the price of olives used for producing olive paste and oil. But even for this, the union has to apply some limits, since its stock capacity is not enough to accommodate the entire harvest. Marketing ability is another obstacle to the union’s buying such lower-quality olives.

Taviloğlu also noted that the price will be good for coarse grain olives and that prices will be announced in the first week of October. The union has cooperatives in Gemlik, Orhangazi, Mudanya, İznik, Erdek, Edincik, Marmara Island and Mürefte.

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