Now that we are in the middle of the harvest period New Cyprus Magazine took the opportunity to visit Kalyoncu, one of the largest packing halls for citrus fruits in the country.
We step into the big packing hall where we are welcomed by Cemal Redif who works as citrus supplier to large food chains around the world.
Cemal shows us around the hall and we get to see how the process works when the fruits are selected, cleaned, packed and finally loaded on the big trucks that drive them away.
The fertile area of Güzelyurt, where the factory is located, is Northern Cyprus’ citrus district and here 110 million kg of fruit is packed every year, solely from this factory.
Among the orange varieties it is primarily Jaffa Shamuti and Valencia that grow here. Both varieties are very popular in Europe and account for about 70% of Kalyoncu´s production.
Cemal says that they harvest 3 million kilos Jaffa Shamuti and 80 million kilos of Valencia each year. Other citrus fruits picked are local mandarins, Mandora-mandarins and White Mesh grapefruit.
The citrus fruits are exported to countries such as Turkey, Ukraine and Russia. Sweden and Norway have historically always been big buyers of citrus fruit from Cyprus.
The largest competitors in the export market are Turkey and Egypt. Turkey has a total crop of 4 million tonnes and they export 2.5 million tonnes, Egypt has a total crop of 3.2 million tonnes and they export 2.5 million tonnes of citrus fruits each year.
Cemal sees a bright future. Europe’s consumption of citrus fruit is growing so demand may rise. In addition Güzelyurt´s citrus production will get a major boost when the water supply from Turkey arrives. It is expected that the 5000 acres that Kalyoncu grows on today will be doubled.
The citrus season runs from December to May and during that period employment is so high that they need to import additional manpower from Turkey. Cemal says that there are 200 packers working inside the factory daily, as well as eight groups consisting of 25 pickers in each group out there on the citrus fields. The pickers pick a ton of fruit per person per day.
After the tour inside the packing hall we get in the car and head off to one of the citrus fields. The afternoon sun spreads a beautiful glistening light upon the tangerine trees, that are being picked with full force. All pickers are equipped with a small scissor to gently cut the fruit of the branches in a manner not harmful to the tree. It is common for groups of pickers to be families from Turkey. When we get there it’s about time to fill the truck bed with todays crop. The children are with their parents running around and playing among the trees. They are curious about our camera and would love to be in the picture. Even though they probably have eaten enough mandarins throughout the day, they still politely accept some more of the peeled, juicy segments, that we hand over to them. The fruit is as golden as the sunlight and tastes absolutely amazing. This is certainly something we would wish to have in the fruit section at home in Scandinavia.