The "Final Harvest Project", organized in cooperation with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, and the Aegean Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Exporters' Association, this time was carried out as the first harvest in tangerines.
Tangerines harvested by the members of the International Damla Volunteers Association from all corners of Turkey in Gümüldür, one of Turkey's most important points in tangerine production, were brought to those in need.
In the online panel organized with the theme of “Leaving Food Behind” during the Tangerine Harvest, what should be done to prevent food loss in Turkey was discussed.
Stating that the total amount of loss in the agricultural production phase of the food supply chain in Turkey is approximately 13,7 million tons, Aegean Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Exporters' Association President Hayrettin Aircraft pointed out that there is a loss of 9,48 million tons in fruit and vegetable production.
"Turkey's total fruit and vegetable production is around 53 million tons, and post-harvest product losses in these vary between 15-50 percent depending on species and varieties," said Aircraft, "Losses in fruit and vegetables appear at many stages of the chain from harvest to consumption. Unplanned production, careless harvesting of the product, unsuitable storage conditions, inadequate packaging, breaking the cold chain during transportation, unsuitable conditions in the sales process or prolongation of the sales period are the main factors in the loss of the product until it reaches the consumer. When wrong consumption habits are added to these losses, some products may experience losses of up to 40 percent.
Products that are not suitable for table production can be directed to the industry
Stating that it is possible to create alternative production opportunities for the losses, Uçar continued his words as follows: “First of all, the products that do not meet the standards required for table production are used in production for the industry, and these industrial products earn our country significant foreign exchange through exports. Fertilizer can be produced from fruit and vegetable wastes, except for industrial production areas such as fruit juice, canned food and jam. An important alternative can be created for bioenergy production. With the joint efforts of both public institutions and the private sector, possible fruit and vegetable wastes can be evaluated in this way. There are examples of this abroad. But I think it is very important for us to think about how we can minimize the waste as well as develop alternative production areas from waste. For this, in order to minimize the loss rates I mentioned at the beginning of my speech, a wide-ranging awareness and training work can be carried out from harvesting techniques to spraying, from the officials in the storage and packaging facilities to the retail sector.”
Storage facilities should be established close to businesses
Noting that the losses in the post-harvest period have an important place in the losses experienced in the fruit-vegetable sector, Chairman Aircraft said, “This causes a decrease in the amount of high quality products. As a result, costs increase and negatively affect our competitiveness. Although our enterprises have sufficient storage areas of their own in general, some physiological disorders may occur during the storage process when there is a high demand in the market and when the field / garden is not harvested on time. Considering the effect of not harvesting on time; With the participation of municipalities, storage facilities can be established in areas close to businesses. Thus, food losses due to harvest time are reduced. Likewise, losses in fruit and vegetable markets can reach high levels, especially due to insufficient infrastructure. In order to prevent this, it is very important to establish cold storages to store sufficient amounts in fruit and vegetable markets.
The cold chain must not be broken
Emphasizing that the cold chain should not be broken from harvest to export or consumption in order to deliver fruit and vegetables to the consumer in a healthy way, Uçar said, “Unfortunately, we witness that the cold chain is broken many times during transportation until it reaches the export stage. When this happens, there is a loss of quality in our products. Although the infrastructure investments to be made to eliminate these infrastructure problems seem costly, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, TUBITAK, Development Agencies and International Organizations have calls for these investments. As the industry, we need to be a little closer to these calls and produce projects with private sector enterprises," he concluded.
Özen: “Everybody wins with this project”
Stating that they aim to prevent food waste in the Voluntary Final Harvest Project, with the logic of “Save the Food, Protect Your Table”, İzmir Agriculture and Forestry Provincial Director Mustafa Özen stated that one third of the products produced in Turkey are lost without consumption. Özen said, “This is a very serious figure, we need to minimize it. Producers do not harvest products that have no economic value and are no longer worth selling and marketing. There is a technical downside to this as well. Pests on plants use unharvested products to spend the winter. Even if you are not going to sell these products, which we always tell the producers, do not leave them on the branch, do not leave the ones that fall at the bottom, and take them away from the field. With this last harvest, we have done just that. We give the products we harvest with our volunteer university students free of charge to those in need through a foundation in our Konak District. Here we combine many benefits from the very beginning. We both prevent waste, deliver products to those in need, harvest by volunteers, and also prevent harmful organisms, which we have said for years, from using the products left in the gardens as hosts. We are removing these products from the field," he said.
Actress and activist Zeynep Tuğçe Bayat, Head of EU Harmonization Department of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry Zeynep Özkan, Food Rescue Association President Berat İnci, Beylikdüzü City Council President Elif Necla Türkoğlu and Tangerine Producer Sabri Çetin took part as speakers in the panel themed “Leaving Food Behind”.