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Feb 11 2019

Istanbul, Ankara residents form long queues for cheaper vegetables, fruits

Long queues formed on the first day of municipal sale points in Istanbul and Ankara providing cheaper fruits and vegetables to consumers as part of the Turkish government’s efforts to curb the effects of soaring produce prices.

Customers reported waiting in line for hours at 50 sale points in Istanbul and Ankara to buy a limited quantity of of certain vegetables offered at up to half price.

The municipal sale points arrive as Turkey battles soaring inflation rates following last year’s currency crisis. Food inflation is at an annual 31 percent, its highest since at least 2004, as the price of eggplants, cucumbers and tomatoes have jumped 81 percent, 53 percent and 39 percent, respectively, over the past year.

Authorities have placed a cap on to the sales of produce per customer, however many believe this will be difficult to implement as people will revisit the sales points multiple times.

“This is 21st Century Turkey,’’ main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Mehmet Göker wrote with images of long line ups.

Opposition journalist Ismail Saymaz shared an image of the price listings and limit per customer of produce in İstanbul, sarcastically labelling the lists edicts of Westernisation.

The municipal initiative follows nationwide raids and threats of heavy fines by Turkish officials against suppliers and companies accused of price gouging.

Raids of wholesale food markets on Feb. 6 revealed “exorbitant” price increases of up to 800 percent for certain items and Ankara has vowed that inspections will continue across Turkey at full steam with ‘’no respite to opportunists.’’