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Growers in Mersin, argue that Turkish state-initiative greenhouse grower Sera A.S. will hurt small growers

In a press conference organized by the Chamber of Agriculture in Mersin, the positives and negatives which Sera A.S., a state-owned greenhouse grower initiative might bring, are discussed extensively.
As the prices of fresh produce such as potato, onion, and tomato skyrocketed in the last 2 years, the government has received a lot of criticism from the public. The reasons behind the increase of the prices are argued to be increasing production costs, the high-profit margins added by the wholesalers and retailers, the shortage of supply due to lack of planning and seasonality and the amplification of the shortage of supply by unnecessarily stocking the products by the intermediaries.

In order to solve the problem, the Turkish government first opened up sales points in major cities run by municipalities however this was not able to drive down the fresh produce prices.

Now the Turkish state is preparing to become an active grower with the establishment of Sera A.S. Sera A.S. is a state-owned company that will be growing fresh produce in greenhouses all over Turkey and sell those products directly to retailers thereby shortening the supply chain. The State Bank Ziraat will also offer low-interest loans for the modernization of greenhouses and the construction of new greenhouses in the country. The loans will be given to investment in the minimum amount of 1 million USD and 5 hectares. The wholesale halls used extensively in the current system will be bypassed in the new proposed system as well.

However, growers in Mersin argue that Sera A.S. will do more damage than it will do good. Speaking to the press, Erdemli Chamber of Agriculture Vice President Turgut Demir: “The cause of the price increase is mostly the result of the seasonality of the products. As the temperatures are lower than expected, the products mature later thereby temporarily creating a shortage of supply which in turn results in the rise of prices. To create an entity like Sera A.S. just to solve this problem will have a negative effect on the rest of the industry. Our growers have no problems in production, the main problem lies in marketing and sales of the product. The new low-interest state bank loans for growers with 5 hectares and more mean the extinction of the small growers as they will not be able to compete with large growers. The state should try to help growers and support them in marketing their products instead of becoming a grower itself and become a competitor of their own growers.

Mersin is one of the most important fresh produce production cities in Turkey. We have greenhouses covering nearly 20.000 hectares. %65 of these greenhouses are used for vegetable production whereas 35 % is used for growing fruits. Our growers produce 220.000 tons of green pepper in 3.000 hectares, 395.000 tons of tomatoes in 2.900 hectares, and 215.000 tons of cucumber in 1.700 hectares. Most of the growers here are small-sized family-owned greenhouses and if Sera A.S. becomes operational, it will hurt their business.”

Source: Mersin Haberci

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