Some 2.2 Turkish farmers put lands up as collateral for surging debts

Turkish farmers face growing debts, with over 2.2 million having mortgages on their title deeds for about 42.3 million decares of agricultural land, forcing some to uproot their trees due to rising costs and financial losses.

Duvar English

Since 2017, the debts of farmers in Turkey have quadrupled to 391 billion Turkish liras ($12.8B) and the title deeds of 2.23 million farmers who cannot pay their debts have been mortgaged, according to reporting of the daily BirGün.

In Turkey, mortgages can secure various types of debts and the real property such as land plots or buildings can be used as collateral.

The main opposition Republican People’s Party lawmaker Ahmet Vehbi Bakırlıoğlu obtained information from the Agriculture and Forestry Ministry on mortgaged agricultural areas and current debts of farmers. 

Accordingly, the mortgaged agricultural area in the country has reached 42.3 million decares. The number of farmers whose agricultural lands were mortgaged by banks was 1.6 million.

MP Bakıroğlu drew attention to the discrepancy between the farmers’ debt when the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power in 2002, and the critically increased debt after the transition to the presidential system in 2017.

"From 2002 to June 2018, farmers' debts to banks grew from 2.4 billion liras to 97 billion liras, and as of now, it stands at 391 billion liras, marking a fourfold increase during the period of one-man rule," the lawmaker stated.

Bakırlıoğlu pointed out that the provinces with the most indebted farmers and the provinces with the highest agricultural production have the highest debt ratio and and said, "Konya, İzmir, Adana, Manisa, Şanlıurfa are in the top 10 in terms of the ratio of mortgaged agricultural areas to total agricultural areas in the province. These figures show us that even those who do not make a living from farming have their fields, vineyards and gardens under mortgage."

The highest number of mortgaged agricultural land was in central Anatiolian Konya province, a crucial agriculture region for the country’s economy. 4.65 million decares belonging to 103,000 farmers were recorded as mortgaged agricultural land.

Bakıroğlu noted that the mortgaged area in Konya province is more than the total area of some provinces.

The MP also reminded that although Aegean Manisa province was the second-highest agricultural producer by agricultural gross value added in 2008, it has since dropped to eighth place over the past 13 years. 

“Surprisingly, despite its substantial production potential, Manisa now leads the way with a 27% share of mortgaged agricultural lands. With 1.6 million decares of mortgaged agricultural land, Manisa ranks third for the highest number of mortgaged agricultural lands. It also stands second with 93,000 farmers who have their lands mortgaged due to debts,” Bakıroğlu stated.

There are roughly 266.7 million decares of agricultural land in approximately 37.9 million parcels in Turkey.

Due to raging inflation and rising costs, farmers often choose to destroy their crops in the recent years. Some of them have even poured their products on the roads as a protest against the government's policies.