In a bid to expand agricultural activities and boost economy, Türkiye rolled out a road map for urban agriculture, which will subsidy activities nearer to the cities…
Turkish government prepared a three-year action plan for urban agriculture, getting the conventionally rural activity closer to the cities. The plan includes support to producers, from machinery to equipment and loans for greenhouse and livestock breeding investments, as well as vocational training and free seeds.
The project will be launched in 2023 in 14 provinces, including the capital Ankara, Istanbul, Türkiye’s third largest province Izmir and the eastern province of Erzincan, as well as Balıkesir, Bursa, Bilecik, Çanakkale, Edirne, Kırklareli, Kocaeli, Sakarya, Tekirdağ and Yalova. It is expected to expand to other cities in the near future.
One of its primary goals is easier access to fresh and cheaper food for urban dwellers at a time of risk of a global food crisis. Food prices wildly vary in the country, with middlemen blamed for influencing and inflating the prices, leading to huge differences between the price of food immediately after its harvest and supermarket prices. In addition, urban agriculture will decrease logistics costs and carbon footprint and create new jobs.
Apart from pilot provinces where the project will first be implemented, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, which spearheads the program, aims to drive the growth of specialized agricultural zones in every province, similar to Organized Industrial Zones, where similar, related businesses congregate. The agricultural zones primarily host geothermal-powered greenhouses. Geothermal greenhouses were first launched in western Türkiye’s Denizli and the eastern province of Ağrı. In 2018, an agricultural zone was opened for investors in Denizli.
Though industrialization gathered pace in the past two decades, with exports soaring, Türkiye is also an important country for agriculture, ranking 31st in the world in terms of agricultural production areas and first in Europe in terms of crop yields. Its national agricultural income reached TL 407 billion ($21.8 billion) in 2021, a 10-fold rise since 2002, while the agricultural sector’s share in employment decreased to 17%. Between 2002 and 2021, agriculture’s share in exports rose to 11%.
Türkiye has been offering a string of incentives to farmers since 2002, with subsidies reaching to TL 24.5 billion. Another TL 305 billion was provided for agricultural production between 2002 and 2021. In the past two decades, livestock producers received TL 108 billion in subsidies.
Between 2002 and 2021, the state distributed free loans worth TL 7 billion to 18,000 projects involving agricultural investment and created 118,000 jobs.
Under the motto “just grow it,” the government’s plan seeks to provide all-out support for farmers, with less red tape and in a simplified way, instead of branching out the cash and other assistance. Türkiye will also enact specialized laws for topics relevant to agriculture, such as the Tea Law, Land Protection and Land Use Law, Water Law, Pasture Law and more to protect the rights and interests of farmers as well as the environment and to prevent unregistered agricultural production. The pre-production permits set to be imposed are designed to better manage crop diversity and prevent any future yield losses.
The government will also focus on supply security, setting up a monitoring system and branching out supply sources, with planned bilateral agreements with other countries.
The steps are part of a government initiative seeking to modernize agriculture policies and were outlined by Agriculture and Forestry Minister Vahit Kirişçi said at a meeting earlier this year. The ministry says agriculture established a “new normal” amid the challenges it faced from the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change and a decline of agricultural lands, to migration, geopolitical risks, food nationalism, monopolization in agriculture and food production, increasing consumption and rising costs. Türkiye aims to take steps that are compatible with this new era to ensure the security of production and supply in agriculture and food production as well as water and energy.