Turkmenistan is currently experiencing a significant investment boom in its greenhouse industry, fueled by its vast natural gas reserves. This has resulted in greenhouse owners enjoying exceptionally low natural gas prices, along with a relatively warm winter and inexpensive labor. These factors present opportunities for cost-effective production of greenhouse vegetables during the winter.
Despite Turkmenistan being relatively unknown in Europe, it has emerged as a global leader in tomato exports, surpassing Uzbekistan in 2022. The country’s greenhouse area is expected to double by 2023-2024, reaching 1400-1500 hectares and doubling tomato output. However, this growth raises concerns about marketing, as an influx in tomato supply could lead to a domestic price collapse, and the country heavily relies on exports to Russia, which is considered an unreliable trading partner.
In 2022, Turkmenistan successfully exported significant tomato volumes to the UAE and Saudi Arabia, signaling a shift towards export diversification. The challenge now lies in meeting the high quality, safety, and packaging standards of these markets. Experts recommend investing in quality improvement, sorting, and efficient logistics, emphasizing the need for optical sorting as a standard practice for large greenhouse operators.
Despite the challenges posed by the high temperatures during the summer season in Turkmenistan, this period holds promise for exports to the Middle East, where tomato prices are highest from May to mid-November. The country should explore niche markets and focus on high-value segments, taking advantage of its cost-effective logistics and labor.
Turkmenistan is encouraged to explore exporting winter tomatoes to the European Union, capitalizing on the expected surplus. Successful export to the EU requires addressing logistics challenges and obtaining certification according to GlobalG.A.P standards.
It is anticipated that by 2024-2025, Turkmenistan may face a significant challenge of excess greenhouse products in the market, presenting an excellent sourcing opportunity for buyers.