Turkey's onion farmers on the verge of bankruptcy due to low domestic demand, export restrictions

Restrictions on the export of onions as well as shrinking local demand due to the closure of hotels and restaurants amid the coronavirus outbreak have left farmers on the verge of bankruptcy. Producers have said several tonnes of onions are currently waiting to rot on the farms, calling on the gov't to lift the export restrictions.

Duvar English

Turkey's onion farmers are going through hard times after the domestic demand for their products shrank due to the closure of restaurants and hotels as part of the novel coronavirus measures coupled with the export restrictions.

Also, the supply is abundant this season as productivity on the farms doubled. “Last year, due to an infectious disease, there was a low productivity on the onion farms. The onions had hit the market at a price of 5-6 Turkish Liras, whereas this year, the productivity has doubled,” the head of the chamber of agriculture of the Yüreğir district of Turkey's southern Adana province told state-run Anadolu Agency.

Mehmet Akın Doğan said that prices received by onion farmers currently average 0.6 Turkish Liras per one kilogram, whereas the price in grocery stores steers between 2-3 liras.

He said that as a result of this increase in supply coupled with a decrease in the domestic demand, several tonnes of onions are currently waiting to rot on the farms.

Doğan said that onions harvested during this period cannot be stockpiled. “Even if they are put in a warehouse, they cannot last for long. The shelf life of these onions is not long; they need to be consumed as soon as possible,” Doğan said.

Meanwhile, the head of the agriculture engineers chamber of Adana, Feyzullah Korkut, called on the government to lift the export restrictions on onions, saying that otherwise thousands of tonnes of these crops will go to waste.

A farmer told Mezopotamya news agency that producers are almost on the verge of bankruptcy as they cannot afford to pay rising costs with such low prices of onions.

“Onions are being produced in Turkey, but then we also see it being exported. This is done as if on purpose. They impose a ban on onion exports not to keep its price high [for domestic market], but then onions are brought from abroad,” farmer Emin Yeşilbudak said.

Turkey faced skyrocketing prices in onions last year. Prices hiked up to nearly 8-10 Liras per kilogram as the country faced a shortage. In return, the Trade Ministry made it compulsory for suppliers to get a special permission to export their harvested onions in a notice published in the official gazette on Jan. 7.

Black Sea region farmers protest against export permits that could cost $120 millionBlack Sea region farmers protest against export permits that could cost $120 million