Turks rediscover love for watermelon

Watermelon-loving Turks are discovering new benefits of the fruit, from fighting cancer to reducing impotence, and farmers who are seeing lower demand for their watermelon are hoping this translates to higher profits.

al-monitor A street vendor selling watermelon talks on his mobile phone as he waits for customers at Taksim Square in central Istanbul, Turkey, June 9, 2013. Photo by REUTERS/Murad Sezer.

Aug 21, 2017

One of the chronic problems of Turkish agriculture has been the annual waste of overproduced watermelons in a country that is one of the biggest consumers of the fruit. Every year newspapers report an enormous waste of watermelons, whose prices crash because of inadequate demand. Faced with low prices, growers don’t want to risk the cost of harvesting the fruit and leave watermelons to rot in the field.

Semsi Bayraktar, the president of the Union of Chambers of Agriculture of Turkey, says every year about 500,000 tons of watermelons are thrown away. Turkey is the No. 2 melon producer in the world after China. Turkey produces 5.6 million tons of watermelon and other melons; domestic demand is 4.9 million tons, with 55,000 tons exported to European countries. Prices remain high in the March-May early produce period but in summer prices decline sharply. Bayraktar says in summer the prices do not even meet costs.

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