Harsh weather, market conditions leave Turkish tomato farmers at risk
Turkey's tomato farmers are facing bankruptcy as the COVID-19 pandemic lowered prices, and harsh weather conditions increased production costs in 2020. "Factories will buy at prices that are basically a breach of contract, forcing market prices down," Turkish Agricultural Chambers Union (TZOB) Chair Şemsi Bayraktar said.
Lowered tomato prices risk forcing farmers out of business, in which case tomatoes would become a luxury good by next year, Turkish Agricultural Chambers Union (TZOB) Chair Şemsi Bayraktar told Anka Agency.
One kilo of tomatoes for paste or purée sell for 0.3 liras, while a kilo of salad tomatoes are priced at 0.6 lira, the chairman noted, adding that tomato buyers are also letting farmers down in terms of pricing, often at the cost of putting farmers in debt.
"Factories will buy at prices that are basically a breach of contract, forcing market prices down," Bayraktar said. "But they should know that if farmers go out of business, they'll dreaming of tomatoes next year."
TZOB also said in a written statement that traders should allow agricultural chambers to monitor sales to ensure that contracts are being followed.
Turkish farmers continued production throughout the pandemic as Ankara formulated elaborate curfews to exclude age groups including agricultural workers, as well as seasonal workers.Aegean tobacco farmers fear abandoning production amid growing economic difficulties
Farmers also braced harsh weather conditions as temperatures fluctuated outside of seasonal norms, observing early heat waves and freezing lows before June.
"Many farmers had to re-plant seedlings, which significantly increased production costs," Bayraktar said. "They pushed through that and now they're struggling with sales."
The chairman noted that exports should be bumped up to stimulate the market and make sure no goods are wasted at the end of the season.
Salad tomatoes should be sold to Iraq and Saudi Arabia, Bayraktar said, adding that local governments should subsidize farmers.Southern Turkey farmers harvest watermelon that 'they lost a lot of sleep over'