Drought and lower harvests to add to Turkey’s rising food inflation

Drought will cause increased losses in wheat, barley, and corn production this year, forcing citizens to consume more expensive food at a time when food inflation is already high, according to experts. Drought has ravaged Turkey and resulted in significant losses in yields of agricultural products.

K. Murat Yıldız / Duvar English 

Turkey will be forced to import millions of tons of agricultural products to meet domestic demand, particularly wheat, barley, corn, and red lentils, due to the drought in the country. There will be a significant drop in forage production, which will be compensated for by increased imports, resulting in price increases for products such as bread, pasta, biscuits, and meat.

Because of insufficient rain in January and February of this year, the growth of products such as barley crops was stunted. Production has dropped by up to 50 percent in Central Anatolian cities like Karaman, Kırıkkale, and Konya, experts pointed out.

Fertilizer, diesel oil, and seed prices have also risen dramatically, particularly since the Turkish lira’s depreciation against foreign currencies. Many farmers have reportedly been unable to lease harvesting machines and equipment because they can no longer afford it. Some who were unable to harvest their fields have allowed their livestock to graze on their crops.

Meanwhile, the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) has called on the government to provide free electricity and water to farmers to be used for the production of agricultural products.

Inaccurate agricultural statistics provided by the government

“Agricultural statistics and forecasting methods, like many other forms of official data, do not reflect the truth,” Prof. Dr. Veysel Ulusoy told Duvar English.

“I've read a lot of reports on the current state of agriculture, including reports from the Chambers of Agriculture. Corn production is down by at least 25 percent, and many other products are down by 40 to 50 percent,” he added.

“As of 2020, the government has yet to distribute financial support to cotton producers. According to my calculations, our wheat imports will most likely exceed our production for the first time in history. This bothers me as a farmer's child,” the professor concluded.

Farmers take to the streets

Farmers from the Mediterranean coast to the Black Sea region have begun holding rallies and protests across the country. Farmers protested high electricity prices charged to their watering systems by blocking the Konya – Adana highway on May 31 in Konya's Karatay district. 

Many protesting farmers told the local press that they couldn't pay their electricity bills and thus couldn't irrigate their land. Farmers also stated that they had already lost 20 percent of their crop due to a lack of water and were hoping for rain to avoid losing the remainder.
Tea producers have been staging similar protests in the Black Sea region. Turkey is one of the top ten tea producers in the world, and it tops the European list.

“The agricultural statistics and forecasts provided by the Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜİK) are incorrect. They downplay the negative effects of draught and other factors such as the sharp increase in fertilizer prices,” said Faik Toy, an agricultural engineer and editor, who added, "TÜİK reported only a minor decrease in agricultural output. I was expecting a 3 million ton drop in wheat only in Central Anatolia, but given the current conditions, I've revised that to 5 million tons.”

“TÜİK announced that the production of some products, such as red lentils, would be increased. They announced a 6.6 percent increase with 350 thousand tons. Southeast Anatolia produces 95 percent of red lentils. Drought hit this region hard, and I expected at least a 50 percent drop in production, but TÜİK announced an increase in their forecast. It's the same with barley,” he added.

“If you look at the agriculture exchange market prices you see how they have skyrocketed. Would prices reach those heights if production were at the government's claimed levels?” asked the agricultural engineer.

Agricultural product prices have doubled on international markets, according to experts. This will have a significant impact on the global and domestic food industries.

Turkey reached a dead-end street in agriculture

“With global food prices rising, importing is no longer a viable option. As a result, Turkey has reached a dead-end road that will exacerbate people's financial difficulties with higher food inflation while also harming relevant industries,” according to Toy.

“I tried to warn the government about this when fertilizer prices skyrocketed even before the drought, but they didn't do anything. As the cost of production for farmers rises, so will the price of the products,” he added.

“Only the price of diesel oil has risen by 50percent, but they claim it is only by 14 percent. When you announce a low price for something, it does not fall in price. How long do they think they can keep the truth hidden from the public?” Toy asked.