Turkey Agricultural News Letter #4

Our latest agricultural news on water scarcity input prices and inflation

Turkey's land rehabilitation combats drought, desertification

Facing the fallout of climate change, the country has intensified its efforts to improve its land and fight erosion with mass planting and other measures. Thus far, Turkey has recovered about 9.8 million hectares of land.

The government unveiled an 11-year action plan to fight against desertification in 2019 and started working on projections and mapping areas most likely to be affected by drought and desertification. “Hot spots” for the phenomenon were defined in 2020.

The country is among the top three in the world in terms of tree planting according to authorities and over the past two decades, increased its forest areas by 2.1 million hectares. By 2023, it seeks to make one-third of its total area covered by forests. The ambition might be challenging but given the country’s troubled past – where 500 million tons of land was lost to erosion in the 1970s – it is a necessity. By the end of last year, this number dropped to 140 million tons a year.

Software developed to track erosion is among the major contributors to the fight, along with rising public awareness. The software used nationwide by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry helps with the micromanagement of lands and the impact of erosion. The government also prepares tree planting action plans for dam basins to reduce the amount of soil accumulated at dam lakes and to preserve basins. Flood control projects are also underway in basins exposed to floods.

In its fight against drought, the government promotes the cultivation of crops that are sustainable during lengthy droughts. Farmers are given incentives – including funds to grow such crops – especially in areas not previously used for agricultural activities or abandoned after past dry seasons. Drip irrigation, an irrigation technique that saves water, is also promoted.


Karapınar, a district in the country’s breadbasket Konya, is an example of efforts that have paid off in the fight against erosion. Once dubbed the “place where the land ended” because of massive erosion, Karapınar was even set to be relocated in the past due to an end to its agricultural activities, the main livelihood of its population. Years later, it is now dubbed a “blossoming desert” as it is dotted with ubiquitous trees.

Wind erosion was so prevalent seven decades ago, it bit off large chunks of land and moved them away, damaging 103,000 hectares of ground. Karapınar, which means "black spring" in Turkish, was actually the driest area in the larger Konya basin, a region with Turkey's lowest precipitation. In the 1950s, it started evolving into a desert, with sand carried by strong winds blanketing agricultural lands. Locals, cooperating with authorities, started taking action in 1959, first erecting high fences around an area of 160,000 decares of land. Canes and tall grass were planted to prevent winds from reaching the crops and these efforts were followed by a mass planting drive. Years later, 42,000 decares of land were regained for agricultural purposes.

Source: Daily Sabah

Turkish Minister: ‘All measures taken to protect Turkey’s agriculture during pandemic’

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Turkey should not have to endure a drought as all necessary measures have been taken, Agriculture and Forestry Minister Bekir Pakdemirli said, speaking on the ministry’s efforts to overcome any obstacles that may occur in production and activities in the agriculture and husbandry sectors during the pandemic.

Minister Pakdemirli stated that Turkey took measures to prevent disruption of both the supply chains and production long before the first COVID-19 case was reported in the country, and stated that they “almost gave diplomatic passports to the farmers during the pandemic,” as they were exempted from the curfews to maintain harvesting and production.

Emphasizing that 2020 was a very good year in agriculture thanks to the measures they took and the incentives they provided in coordination with the health and interior ministries, Minister  said, "We closed 2020 with a growth far beyond Turkey's growth in agricultural output.”

Minister Pakdemirli explained that the measures also covered seasonal workers whose payments were given in advance and who were provided with extra support.

Minister also stated that underground dams have been commissioned to prevent water shortages in the country in the future. Some 50 of these are to be completed by the end of 2021 and a total of 150 dams are scheduled for construction in 2023.

Mentioning the benefits of underground dams against drought, Minister said that since there is no evaporation, water is preserved much better and expropriation costs are also avoided.

Emphasizing that water resources should be treated very well, Minister Pakdemirli said: “We need to increase water resources. We need to reduce the expenditures as well. The lion's share of the expenditure here belongs to the agricultural sector.”

Source: Daily Sabah

Yield losses, rising prices force Turkish milk producers to slaughter animals

Problems in Turkey's agriculture industry are getting worse by the day. Farmers have been crushed by high production costs in recent years, and this year they are dealing with not only the pandemic and economic difficulties, but also drought.

The direct negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, drought, and depreciation of the lira are increasingly causing problems for farmers as well as livestock producers in Turkey, especially milk producers who rely heavily on agricultural products like wheat, barley, and maize to feed their animals.

The growth of products such as barley crops, which is essential for the industry, was stunted due to a lack of rain in January and February of this year. Experts have noted that production in Central Anatolian cities such as Karaman, Kırıkkale, and Konya has dropped by up to 50 percent as corn production is reportedly down by at least 25 percent.

It is expected that yield losses of approximately 5 million tons of wheat and 4 million tons of barley will occur this year as the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, in its heavily criticized forecast, insisted that there would be only a loss of 1 million tons of harvest in wheat.

Due to the drought, barley prices have risen above wheat prices and are now selling for 2,800 liras, while factory feed prices are rising daily as the depreciation of the lira against foreign currencies continues.

In exchange for 1 liter of milk, a farmer could receive 2 kilograms of feed. Farmers can only get 850-900 grams of feed for every liter of milk sold this year. As a result, farmers who are losing money and cannot feed their animals have reportedly been slaughtering their dairy animals in greater numbers in recent weeks and selling their meat.

Feed prices, which were previously raised on a monthly basis, have recently been increased on a daily basis and Turkey is 55 to 60 percent dependent on imported feed. The Turkish Dairy Producers Central Union's Chairman, Tevfik Keskin, stated that milk producers could no longer stand against feed prices and demanded that the government intervene immediately.

“It is not possible to continue production under these conditions,” Keskin said, pointing out that the production cost of 1 kg of milk is 3.13 liras, but the producer cannot sell their milk even for the 2.90 liras set by the National Dairy Council. “Both feed and milk prices require immediate intervention.”

Although the Minister of Agriculture and Forestry promised to solve this issue, no solid steps have been taken as of yet.

Feed prices skyrocketed

When comparing raw material prices in June 2021 to the previous year, corn has increased by 108 percent, barley has increased by 100 percent, soybean meal has increased by 60 percent, wheat bran has increased by 91 percent, high protein sunflower meal has increased by 81 percent, corn DDGS has increased by 85 percent, and high protein cottonseed meal has increased by 109 percent.

When the increase in compound feed prices in June 2021 is compared to the previous year, fattening feed is up 66.5 percent, dairy feed is up 72 percent, egg feed is up 84 percent, and broiler feed is up 77.5 percent.

“We requested that the government increase its financial support for the industry. We're currently losing a lot of money. This situation is too much for us to bear. The Turkish Grain Board (TMO) is expected to intervene on our behalf, and the minister has made similar statements. But we're already in the red,” Tevfik Keskin, Chairman of the Turkish Dairy Producers Central Union, told Duvar English.

“We have to feed our animals. The TMO must immediately take steps regarding the feed prices. The process needs to speed up. People are taking their milk-producing animals to slaughter as they cannot feed them. The state has the power to solve our problems. They could have done it earlier, but it is still not too late,” the chairman concluded.

Duvarenglish 22/06/2021