ANKARA: The yearly cost of Turkey’s agricultural imports have risen more than four times since the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) came to power in 2002, suggesting that the country’s strong performance with regards to self-sufficiency in agricultural production is about to wane.
While the amount of money that the government paid for imported agricultural goods was $1.69 billion during 2002, it totaled $8.62 billion between April 2014 and March 2015, rising dramatically by 409 percent.
Held during three days between May 8 and 10 in Ankara, the 26th annual meeting of the Turkish Union of Agricultural Chambers (TZOB) featured enlightening presentations and reports along with speeches made by key political figures and bureaucrats including President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu. Presenting compiled data from the Turkish Statistics Institute (TurkStat), the meeting also disclosed a grim picture of the Turkish agriculture sector, which has gradually deteriorated over recent years.
According to statistics revealed outside the annual meeting, Turkey imported agro products from a total of 153 countries by the end of 2014, which a figure that represents 74 percent of all the world’s countries. The corresponding number was only 74 in 2002.
Among the countries which have added as import partners of Turkey for agricultural products over the years are Bahrain, Belize, Cambodia, Djibouti, the Dominican Republic, Iceland, Jamaica, Kuwait, Luxembourg, Mauritania, Mali, Nepal, Niger, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Qatar, Rwanda, Senegal, Somalia, Surinam, Venezuela and Zambia.
In the meantime, the Chamber of Agricultural Engineers (ZMO), which is an affiliate of the Turkish Union of Engineers and Architects’ Chambers (TMMOB), released a statement on Monday and said Turkey has lost agricultural land equaling the area of Belgium over the last decade.