Hard-hit by imports, Turkey’s potato farmers call on gov’t for help

Turkey’s potato farmers are calling for government to step in to reduce soaring costs following a decision by Ankara to import and axe import duty on the food staple, Deutsche Welle Turkish reported on Sunday.

The producers have voiced their need for an intervention after being hit hard by a decision by Ankara, which announced that it would import the staple food, among others, amid soaring inflation.

Ankara’s plan to allow imports in limited amounts from designated countries is part of an effort to curb prices on produce, which have skyrocketed in recent months.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan earlier this month went a step further this month by signing a decree abolishing the import duty on potatoes in volumes which are no less than 200,000 tonnes until April 20.

The move follows a spike in the country’s potato prices, which in February 2019 increased by 6.7 percent. President Erdoğan has repeatedly stated that measures to combat entrepreneurs who artificially create shortage of potatoes in the markets will be strengthened.

“As potato producers we have witnessed a serious hike in our costs over the past year. The prices of diesel fuel, seeds and fertilizer have all skyrocketed. We can no longer deal with these soaring prices,”  Zeki Turan, the vice chairman of the İzmir Ödemiş Exchange Market told Deutsche Welle.

According to Farmers Unions Confederation (Çiftçi-Sen) Chairman Abdullah Aysu, Turkey’s decision to scrap domestic seeds in exchange for imports is increasing crop diseases.

The diseases in foreign seeds are damaging Turkish soil, Aysu said, adding, ‘’Agricultural production cannot go on like this. Every link in the supply chain is raising prices. And the government collects taxes from all of these links. But the farmers and the customers continue to suffer.”