Experts warn of drought as winter rains fail in Turkey

The risk of a large-scale drought in Turkey is bigger than ever, experts warned, after many regions in the east of the country saw almost no rain at all this winter.

According Turkey’s General Directorate of Meteorology, rainfall has decreased by 20 percent since 2009. Compared to December 2016, total precipitation in December 2017 was 32 percent lower.

Lack of rainfall in winter is more dangerous to agriculture, Mikdat Kadıoğlu from Istanbul Technical University’s meteorological engineering department was quoted by German public broadcaster DW as saying.

Seventy percent of water in Turkey is used for agriculture, so problems in irrigation systems and crop selection need to be addressed, Kadıoğlu said.

The government downplays the risks, but agrees on the solutions, DW said.

Minister of Forestry and Water Veysel Eroğlu said last summer that Turkey experienced its driest period in 44 years and suggested storing winter precipitation for summer.

Minister of Agriculture Eşref Fakıbaba last week said irrigation infrastructure needed to be completed urgently in eastern and southeastern Turkey, according to DW.

But “there is no concern about agricultural drought,” Fakıbaba said, adding the Ministry of Agriculture had insurance and aid to support farmers.