Remember the feeling of eating off-season vegetables short in taste and smell. Tomatoes, eggplants, cucumbers or peppers do not taste the same during winter; however we find them everywhere due to high consumer demand. Where do these vegetables and fruits grow? Is it worth consuming?


Consumers can ask a lot of questions and experts have the right answers. Expansion of greenhouses is one of the key strategies for agriculture development in Albania. According to Ministry of Agriculture, greenhouses are an ongoing trend. Do you know what farmers use to grow vegetables and fruits in greenhouses? Are they subject to official inspections and control? Back in November 2015, Minister of Agriculture said that all agriculture inputs and industrial chemicals that entered Albania since 1990 would be strictly inspected.


Consumers are mostly interested to know what they are eating


Kristaq Sini is an expert in bio technology and professor at the Faculty of AgriTechnology. When asked if consumers should use summer season products in winter he said: “It depends how and where these products were cultivated.” “If these crops were planted with the right climatic conditions and in the right soil than everything is fine” he says. He says that products grown in Northern Africa for example such as tomatoes, banana or peppers can be imported for as long as the country provides the best conditions for a natural growth.


“Albania however does not offer proper growth conditions for tomato and peppers in winter because our climate forces farmers to plant them in the ground during spring so that they can be harvested in summer. Greenhouse production on the other hand requires an earlier planting than the natural one. Greenhouses can provide us the right temperature but not a timeline of the sunshine which is not sufficient to guarantee a solid growth during winter. Therefore, farmers use substances and chemicals to guarantee the perfect size as well as artificial boosters for their growth” he added.


Mr. Sini told AgroWeb that Albanian products produced during winter are not natural. “In my opinion, products such as tomato, peppers, eggplants or cucumbers grown in greenhouses and sold during winter have had their share of unnatural chemical factors. In my judgment, tomatoes and other crops are mostly harvested in spring and can be planted in greenhouses only to guarantee an early production compared to the field production.


Tomatoes cannot grow in winter, because they need the right temperature (which nevertheless can be ensured using artificial means) and continuous sunshine. Tomatoes produced in winter that have the right size and look of a tomato harvested in summer are without a doubt full of artificial growth hormones! Winter tomatoes whither but are not affected by bacteria, insects or worms. The latter could never feast on a not grown fruit however humans can? Why is that? People should not eat a vegetable or fruit that has not grown naturally.


Nature has provided plans with the right tools and mechanisms to ensure their existence and continuity, such as toxic elements easily found in fruits that have not yet reached peak eating quality. They do not meet the demands set by the food pyramid starting from microbe, insects, and worms and at last, humans! “Inappropriate food” means that these plants lack the right size and quantity of proteins carbohydrates, fat, vitamins and minerals. This means that we are dealing with under-ripe fruit or vegetable. A fruit or vegetable that has reached its peak eating quality has a positive impact for the consumer and nature: no intoxications; quality food values and continuous seed maturity that allows a successive planting”, Mr. Sini explained.


This is a bitter truth nevertheless it seems we have an answer to our questions. We have noted several attempts to camouflage chemical products used for the super growth of vegetables and fruits as ‘EU certified’ however consumers need to know if products grown through artificial hormones are toxic or not./