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Turkish Growers Association President: Our growers need to produce their plants for export markets

Turkish Growers Association (SUSBIR) President Ahmet Dundar: “Turkish growers need to embrace the digital age as soon as possible. That is the current reality of our industry and the world. Exhibitions and trade fairs were vital to our industry. In these organizations, our growers learn from each other and also reach buyers. However, with the advance of the internet and digitalization, the importance of these fairs is getting smaller. Fairs in Europe are declining in size every year. Only the fair in Essen is significant in order to set up commercial trade lanes. The other fairs are mostly for show and networking and not for commerce. That’s why our growers need to adapt rapidly to the digital age.

In domestic projects such as parks and landscaping of the cities, we have been calling for the use of domestic products and our calls have been answered positively by our President. Right now 80 % of the products used in these projects are domestic. If we cannot sell our products, then it means there is a problem with our marketing and sales organization. There is no need to import products, especially with our country’s massive current account deficit. We need to be an exporting country in ornamental plants and cut flowers, not an importing one.

Our country’s economic problems have also impacted the floriculture industry. To overcome these problems is only possible with high-quality products so we can focus on export markets instead of the domestic market. Unfortunately, we cannot focus on export markets due to our products being not a good fit for those markets. Especially in ornamental plant production, our growers need to select their production assortment with export markets in mind. Currently, our growers are mostly focused on the domestic market and municipality demands. At least half of the production should be made with the goal of selling them to foreign markets. If we cannot achieve that, then our growers will go out of business. This industry is very harsh towards growers with low-quality production, our growers are slowly realizing this.

For instance, Odemis town of Izmir is a very important production area and many growers are located here. However, almost all growers grow their products for municipalities. Now with municipality budget cuts, there is excess supply but we cannot export these products because of low quality. The use of peat in Odemis is extremely low and almost every country wants to purchase plants with peat in it. Local goods used as a replacement for peat cause diseases so the entire global market is very much reluctant in purchasing such products.

As the Growers’ Association, we are also trying to support our growers with training courses to improve their production know-how. Also, I have been the president of Growers’ Association for 3 years and for 3 years we have been requesting from the Ministry of Agriculture the list of products we are importing and their quantities so that we can use these figures to inform and direct our growers. However, this information is not available. If we can get this list and start growing these products at high-quality, then we will be able to compete in the global marketplace as well.”

Source: Haber Hurriyeti

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