Turkey has not seen any shortage in agricultural product supply during the coronavirus pandemic thanks to measures taken in advance, the agriculture and forestry minister has said, according to a ministry statement.
“By means of precautionary measures we have not experienced any disruption in food supply security,” Bekir Pakdemirli was quoted as saying during a video conference meeting with the personnel on May 25 to mark Eid al-Fitr.
The ministry took measures to ensure food security in February, nearly a month before the coronavirus pandemic reached Turkey, he added.
The measures were tightened in mid-March, when first coronavirus cases and deaths occurred in the country, said Pakdemirli.
“Primarily, we founded a science board within the ministry. We started to watch closely the harvest, yield, tariff, import and export issues regarding nearly 50 products through the newly founded product desks,” he said.
The ministry also opened hotlines to response to questions from farmers and consumers, according to the minister’s remarks.
Farmers were given mobility permissions during weekend and holiday lockdown restrictions in a bid to sustain agricultural production.
Milk production incentives were increased and animal breeders were granted fodder incentives worth a total of 100 million Turkish Liras ($14.8 million). The loan repayments of farmers to the state-owned lender Ziraat and credit cooperatives were deferred for 6 months.
“Thanks to the fast and effective measures we have taken as a ministry, we have not experienced any problems in food production and supply during the epidemic and during the month of Ramadan,” Pakdemirli said.
“In this process, we tried to protect both our producers and our consumers,” the minister added.
“The market shelves could be filled again immediately before emptying. I would like to thank our farmers, breeders and industry stakeholders for this.”
Pakdemirli argued that Turkey has set an example to the world with its successful fight against the pandemic.
Exports to Far East
Turkey has also stepped up diplomatic contacts with Far East countries to open export channels for agricultural products, the Turkish trade minister has said.
“As a result of our recent intense works, we are knocking on China’s door for milk and dairy product exports, and we have been allowed to export Turkish apples to Thailand,” Ruhsar Pekcan said on May 25.
“Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, which affects all the world, we have speeded up efforts to increase market diversity,” she said.
Turkey’s exports of milk and other dairy products to China will continue, she added, saying that 54 Turkish companies will be able to export to China in this field.
“Last year, China imported milk and dairy products from supplier countries worth $6 billion,” she said. Turkish dairy producers’ exports in the same period reached a total of $364 million, she added.
Turkey also applied to the Thai authorities for potato, cherry, grape, pear, strawberry and mandarin exports, and to Japanese authorities for strawberry, orange and mandarin exports, according to Pekcan’s remarks.
Turkish fresh fruit and vegetable exporters also eye South Korean, Vietnamese, Australian and Filipino markets.