Turkey’s Agriculture Ministry a hotbed for Gülenists, says pro-gov’t daily

Turkey has failed to purge members of the Gülen movement, a group accused of orchestrating the July 2016 coup attempt, from the country’s Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, and the group continues to obstruct important initiatives by the ministry, pro-government Yeni Şafak newspaper reported.

Turkey accuses the Gülen movement, a former ally of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) which it now designates as a terrorist organisation, of infiltrating state institutions over decades, including the security forces, judiciary and ministries, among others. 

Yeni Şafak said members of the Gülen movement were preventing the implementation of important projects in agriculture and livestock breeding, in addition to having played a role in the price hikes of onions and potatoes ahead of the March 31 local elections.

A dramatic rise of up to 30 percent in the price of Turkey’s basic food products such as potatoes and onions earlier this year drew nation-wide criticism.

The Turkish government implemented a crackdown on what it called “food terrorists,” wholesalers it accused of stockpiling vegetables and retailers without good reason, while setting up municipal stands in large cities to offer produce at lowered rates ahead of the polls.

Livestock production in Turkey has also been stricken in recent years, with the country becoming increasingly dependent on meat imports amid increases in wholesale and retail prices of carcass beef and lamb.

Yeni Şafak’s article speculated that Gülenists may have played a role in both situations.

A mere 21 members of the Gülen movement were dismissed from the Agriculture Ministry after the 2016 coup attempt, compared to the hundreds from other ministries, according to Yeni Şafak.

Turkish authorities have imprisoned over 77,000 people they suspect of being members of the Gülen movement and around 150,000 public employees have been suspended or sacked as part of the global crackdown implemented since the coup attempt.