The famous pistachio trees in the southeast Gaziantep province are being guarded around the clock against theft. As harvest time approaches, the nuts, which are known as "green gold" in the region after recent price increases, will be guarded for about two months around the clock.
Security guards are deployed in 15-to-20 meter high towers around the trees, armed with hunting rifles. Anyone trying to pick a few is being chased away by them firing in the air. A kilogram of pistachios is worth around TL 200 ($31).
The Antep pistachios are famous for their taste and form, and are mostly used for Turkish delicacies or exported.
Mehmet İnal, who owns a 4-hectare pistachio farm, said the best way to protect his produce was to strike a deal with the security guards. "Thieves come with trucks and carry off the pistachios from unguarded fields," he said.
Thieves come in groups of five to 10 persons, lay a sheet down under the tree and collect the pistachios, İnal told the Doğan news agency. Mustafa Kaplan, who had been working as a guard for years, said the job had to be done in shifts in order to protect the produce 24 hours a day. He said his monthly wage was around TL 2,500 to 3,000.
The harvest is expected to end by October.