By Chris Elliott…….
Northern Cyprus is a very diverse country with mountains, large plains and very fine areas to the west where fruit and vegetables can be grown and at one time Cyprus past exported many products to the world.
The environment has changed and in the past few years an undersea freshwater pipeline was laid by Turkey which feeds into the massive Geçitköy Dam and is then pumped up the mountain to the Camlibel water processing plant which then pumps water all round North Cyprus to both towns, cities and villages.
This has been a massive ongoing project with water supply pipelines being laid and commissioned and this will be a benefit to all and in particular to the agricultural communities which includes the western regions which has been renowned for its fruit and one of the delights is to enjoy strawberries that come from the lovely village of Yesilirmak and soon the western region will have its share of water from Turkey which will see the ” sunrise in the west” of North Cyprus as it starts to regain its rightful place as a producer of fruit and vegetables.
In preparation for the future, Cemal Redif the General Manager of Cypfruvex Ltd recently visited the 8th International Citrus Festival in Mersin, Turkey as preparation and long term planning is being made and for the TRNC to apply to become a member of the International Citrus Congress (AKIB).
Cemal Redif said, The main purpose of our project is not only citrus growing but reversing the destruction of water in Güzelyurt through decreasing water quality but with the arrival of Turkish water in our region to increase competition in the market and create new plantations and start old plantation producing again. It’s not necessarily in this region to produce and export citrus fruits.
We need to produce for the domestic market. We are an island country and export-dependent production to export never makes a profit. What we need to do is to provide local production products that tourists, students and people in our country can consume, and also promote these activities through tourism and the tourists who visit our region.
We don’t do export-oriented production because we have huge competitors with high production. We cannot compete with these countries that produce very seriously. We have to take into account that our production costs are very high and that all the products we use in production are imported from abroad, Cemal Redif said. “Water is planned to reach our region in 2021. We have to do our homework in the best way until then. 2 years later this water will come, but we will plan what we will do with this water. We have to decide what to plant in the gardens that are emptied from citrus fruits and we have to make preparations in this direction. With the arrival of water, we need to create new plantations by planting trees such as hard fruit, bananas, passion fruit, guava, date palm, and growing potatoes and artichokes to make them a brand”.
A WATER LIFELINE WILL COME TO THE REGION
He also said: Production should be made in the region 12 months of the year with the arrival of agricultural water to the Güzelyurt region and argued that greenhouse cultivation in the region should be improved and we should get rid of dependence on imports of fresh vegetables.
With the arrival of water in the Güzelyurt region, Redif stated that the salinity rate of groundwater will gradually decrease and that each region in Güzelyurt basin has different soil and climate structure and that the vacant lands in these regions should be brought into production in a planned manner.
Emphasizing that there are many fruit species that can be grown in the Güzelyurt region and that our country’s climate is suitable for growing exotic fruits, Cemal Redif said, while we have such an opportunity, if we are importing these fruits instead of producing them. If we produce a little more than the amount we will import and direct it to the domestic market, we will be profitable in every aspect as a country.
“WE HAVE TO PRODUCE IN A PLANNED WAY”
Cemal Redif emphasized that one of the biggest problems in our country is unplanned production and said, “In 2009 the yield of Mandora (Mandarin and Orange cross) was 4 thousand tons. This product is not marketable. It is not a preferred product because its skin is hard and it does not peel easily. Despite this, production continues to increase seriously and unplanned. However, this product is fortunately not widely available in the market, he said.
Many of the citrus orchards in the region are of old and aging trees which should be cut, said Redif. Instead of these starting growing at the end of August to begin harvesting for 10 months, the harvest will continue to be cultivated, he said. Stating that the agricultural sector should turn to domestic employment instead of seasonal migrant workers, Cemal Redif said, “It is not easy to find domestic employment as seasonal workers because the harvest period lasts only 3 months. But in Turkey as a production it can take 7-8 months, we can create domestic employment in the harvesting business area. We will have the opportunity to grow all kinds of fruit and vegetables in the Güzelyurt region with its quality soil, climate and future water. Our manufacturer has the necessary knowledge and experience. There is only one shortage of water and orientation,” he argued that if they are solved then Guzelyurt’s good fortune will change.
“WE NEED INNOVATIONS”
Pointing out that there are many different and new species in citrus, Cemal Redif said, We are trying to carry out this business with 60-70 years old species and the system is blocked. The way to overcome this is to switch to new species. You cannot get the yield and quality you want from these trees.
If we can find a market for the producer and show this potential to the producer, then they will not hesitate to make the necessary investments and breakthroughs in our producers and underlined that this planning should be done as soon as possible. Redif said there are different markets in which we need to make production in our country and the only way we can be exporting products produced with different types of products is to make production at different times than they are normally available.
“WE CANNOT MARKET OUR PRODUCTS TO OUR DOMESTIC MARKET”
Cemal Redif stated that we had serious problems in terms of marketing the products produced in our country and that we could not find a sustainable market. He added that the products grown in our country should be marketed not only in raw form but also in processed form and that we were unable to process these processed products.
“We have close to one and a half million tourists in our domestic market and close to 100 thousand students. However, we are incapable of bringing our own products to this potential. If we believe in the production of citrus and agricultural sector for the development of the country’s economy and believe in production, for example, pastes of citrus products, jams, fruit juices, lemonades, small plants can produce for the domestic market and the private sector should be encouraged to become involved in our future development”.
“We cannot consume our products in our own domestic market, said Cemal Redif.“How many homes drink orange juice, how many children know the taste of pomegranate juice. First of all, we should enter the houses in our own country. If half of the country’s population drinks 1 litre of pomegranate juice per year, we don’t need to export the pomegranate we produce, but there is no awareness and education in schools, government offices or any institution”.
“We want to bring CYPFRUVEX to a sustainable structure”
Pointing out that Cypfruvex is a balancing element in terms of protecting both the producer and the exporter, Cemal Redif said, “We are primarily trying to improve the economic structure in order to sustain and survive. In the past years, Cypfruvex has been severely damaged. We have a salaried team of 43 people and even in the dead season with temporary employment, contracted employment and seasonal recruitment.
This means an expense of 5 million TL per year. Cypfruvex has no power to cover it, and unfortunately, we are taking from the manufacturer’s product price to cover this salary expense. We’re trying to close the holes to prevent this ship, which is currently receiving water, from sinking. We are trying to create a Cypfruvex that can walk steadily by taking the necessary saving measures to reduce personnel expenses and fixed expenses. In addition, we are also working to find a market for products to be sold in the coming season. We are trying to create new markets and new opportunities. The only door that was open for us was the Mersin Gate. We participated in Turkey’s domestic market and recently visited the Mersin International Mersin Citrus Festival Turkey in order to find out the buyers to deliver our products to in other markets,
Cemal Redif expressed his great interest as the Northern Cyprus team at the seventh International Mersin Citrus Festival this year. Mediterranean Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Exporters Union, Citrus Festivals and Conferences Union Presidency, exporters and academics in the coming days, explaining the future of our country. “What can be new plantations, how to use the water in the region efficiently, which products can appeal to wider markets. In about 3-4 days we will carry out a workshop.
“MERSIN DOOR IS OPEN TO US ”
The Mersin customs gate is open to our country, but there are some errors in manufacturers of some of the products exported to Turkey. Cemal Redif said , “There is no intent against our country and the Mersin door with us never closes. We have had problems in the past, but now we do not have a problem with the products we send.”
Redif argued that the Green Line Regulation works in line with the interests of Southern Cyprus, not Northern Cyprus, and that the regulation is not fully operational. This year we have made some pomegranate exports, I hope these exports will increase even more, but now we cannot say that the Green Line Regulation is 100 percent open to us.”.
KAÇMAZ: WE WANT TO CONTRIBUTE TO INCREASE PRODUCTION
President, Kemal Kacmaz of the International Citrus Congress (AKIB), stressed that they aim to develop trade relations between the two countries. “The agricultural sector is a strategic sector all over the world, said Kaçmaz.“ We want to make a contribution to increasing production in Northern Cyprus. We would like to share our knowledge and experience with our stakeholders in Northern Cyprus about how we can improve our commercial relations with Northern Cyprus, increase the production diversity and capacity and how to use water reaching the region more efficiently for agriculture. We will also consider together what we can do about the marketing of products produced in Northern Cyprus. ”