Turkey's southeastern province of Malatya, the world's largest provider of apricots, has suffered heavy losses to its harvest this year due to frost that recently hit the area.
Several regions of Turkey experienced frost in the final week of March after higher-than-expected temperatures and drought in the months of January and February caused fruit trees to bloom early, rendering them more sensitive to frost.
The Hürriyet daily reported on Wednesday that the apricot trees in Malatya have also been seriously affected by the frost, and local producers expect a decrease of as much as 80 percent in apricot production this year. This would be the worst loss in Malatya's apricot production history, market experts underlined. They predict that the price of apricots affected by the frost will increase by at least 100 percent this year.
Turkey is the leading producer of apricots in the world, producing a mammoth 795,000 tons annually (2012 figures), and a staggering 95 percent of Turkey's dried apricot production is based in Malatya. Between 65-80 percent of the world's dried apricots are estimated to originate in Malatya.
Turkish Union of Agricultural Chambers (TZOB) President Şemsi Bayraktar said last week that countries such as China and Russia are likely to replace Turkey as the world's largest apricot exporters following the frost this year.
Apricot production has gained economic value over the years in Malatya, with an estimated 50,000 families engaged in this business in the city. Malatya had expected to boost this year's crop by 40,000 tons compared to last year, but the recent frost might prevent this, Hürriyet reported.
The daily said local producers are now demanding government subsidies for their losses. Bayraktar said 30,000 producers from Malatya have applied to their insurance companies to claim compensation for their losses.
The largest regional agricultural productivity project in Turkey, the Southeastern Anatolia Project (GAP), is expected to boost the fresh and dried apricot output from Malatya. However, experts warn that producers must be more informed about natural hazards such as frost.
Source : TODAY'S ZAMAN