Turkey: Grower in Antalya switches from tomato and pepper to dragon fruit

A grower in Antalya is tired of the rising production costs in tomato, pepper and other vegetable cultivation. Now he's switched to dragon fruits. The grower started receiving products a year ago and now each dragon fruit is being sold between 1.75 to 2.5 USD. Dragon fruit does not need a lot of water and can be grown with organic fertilizers, that’s why production costs are more reasonable and stable.

The grower Bilal Bayram started production in a 1,500 square meter greenhouse where he planted 1,000 pitaya plants. The harvest time came within a year and the grower is very satisfied with the prices, which vary according to size from 1 USD up to 2.5 USD per fruit.

The grower noted the low production costs and better prices and suggested it as a viable alternative product for many growers in the area. Also the productivity was significantly higher than the grower’s expectations, where he was predicting to receive between 300 and 500 pieces for the first harvest but ended up harvesting between 2,000 and 3,000 pieces. Another important point underlined by the grower was the requirement for less labor. 4-5 employees are needed for growing and harvesting tomatoes in a 3,000 square meter tomato greenhouse whereas only one employee can handle dragon fruit production in a 5,000 square meter greenhouse.

Another advantage of the product from a marketing and sales perspective is its long shelf life. The product can be stored at 4 degrees for as long as 34 weeks. This helps both the grower and the retailer in minimizing costs associated with waste. Now other growers in different regions are becoming interested in dragon fruit production.

A grower in Torbali district of Izmir, located in western Turkey set up his own greenhouse to grow dragon fruit and sells it for as much as  2.5 USD per piece depending on the size. The grower is now looking at the European market and exploring opportunities for export.

This grower has been producing tomatoes, corn and green pepper in the last 30 years in an area of 15 hectares but started his own greenhouse for dragon fruit production with small investments. The harvest of the first products came within 14 months. Now the grower is planning to expand his greenhouse to 5 hectares and to export products to the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Switzerland.

The grower noted the benefits of dragon fruit, not only from a marketing and sales perspective, but also from a production standpoint. Dragon fruit is resistant to cold and diseases and does not require fertilizers. Additionally it is possible to harvest products in 5 separate periods between May and end of November. The fruit also has health benefits for consumers, helping them in dealing with diabetes. The price in Europe is around 9 euros per piece whereas we sell it at the farm for 2.5 USD. At domestic retailers, the sale price is somewhere between 6.5 USD and 11.5 USD.

Source: Haberturk


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