Short and long term solutions to the problems in agricultural production and food supply processes manifested by the increase in food prices.

In fact, the main problem is not new, we are far from self-sufficiency in oils, wheat, sugar and many other basic food components in agricultural products for many years.

Until now, we didn’t worry much about it because importing from outside was cheaper than even producing it inside. The rise in exchange rates has increased the prices of imported or exported food, but this is not the only reason. Another reason for the price increase is the decrease in the yields of the crops both in our country and in other producing countries due to drought etc.. With the effect of the pandemic, many of our routines and habits have changed or will change. Extraordinary situations require extraordinary measures. Some countries woke up early and took precautions, that is the real issue.

Due to the nature of the agriculture-based food industry, harvesting is done and stocked for several months of the year and these stocks are used throughout the year. Yield fluctuations between years can be overcome softly with one or a few years of stock turnover in products that can be stored for a long time. Or the shortage and the excess can be balanced with the trade between countries. However, different breaks occurred with the pandemic than the situation we are used to.

The foresight of the transitivity of food and agricultural products, that is, the possibility of difficulty or difficulty in exports and imports, forced countries and companies to take extraordinary measures. We think we are having a problem now that the price has increased a little, actually we have not seen any problems yet. We just experienced a price increase. I’m afraid we can only see the tip of the iceberg.

Tahir Büyükhelvacıgil, the Chairperson of the Vegetable Oil Industrialists’ Association (BYSD) made a statement that there was an incomprehensible detail between the lines.

Büyükhelvacıgil said, “Do not get caught up in the price increase, the important thing is that the product can be found on the shelf, even if it is expensive. Essentially, one should also consider the scarcity of products that cannot be shelved.”

Supply, demand and price…

When the supply decreases, the price rises and when the price increases, the demand is narrowed, thus the supply-demand balance is re-established. Of course, this principle applies in the presence of substitute products or if that product is not a mandatory consumption item. If there is no bread, the cake can be eaten, but if there is none then it is bad. The probable danger that will be experienced this year (these days are our good days) is the resurgence of a situation that we have forgotten because we have not lived in the last 40 years, albeit for another reason. Unfortunately, we can go to the market and see the posts No oil, no bread, no sugar.

You may say that most of you are not exaggerating now. In years when the olive oil yield is low, the price increases, consumption shifts to other vegetable oils or something, but there would be no major effects that would deeply affect the public.

Yes, there is an important deficiency in olive oil production this year, prices have increased, consumption will decrease and so on, but the real problem is different. If the developments that hinder the import of vegetable oil groups, which are the substitutes of olive oil, have already stood with imports for a long time, it is possible that oil, even if expensive, will not be available.

As a result, we must take a radical transformation move in agriculture in order to learn from what has happened and will be experienced during this pandemic process and to establish self-sufficient agricultural production, especially in basic foodstuffs.

But until this happens (actually, we are late), the state should take action proactively and take measures to increase the country’s stocks quickly, that is, making arrangements that will facilitate imports and make bulk export difficult, and this year should be overcome.

The wolf spends the winter like that, but the important thing is not to forget the frost it came across. We have to reform agriculture in a way that is at least self-sufficient, in order not to have such fearful dreams again. Unfortunately Turkey can produce only ten percent of its agricultural production potential at present.

Apart from being self-sufficient, we can realize our potential as the world’s important agricultural product and food exporter only by changing our perspective.

The article has long enough, let me not go into details, the remedy is simple: the only salvation is to move quickly from the individual small-farming model to the collective farming model.

Editing by Ruhşan Özdemir Çifçi, Food Engineer, M.Sc.

Author: Mustafa Alhat, Co-Partner of Alhatoğlu Oliveoil Company, Akhisar / Manisa

About İsmail Uğural

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