President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has pledged measures that will help tame the volatility in food prices and support livestock and agriculture, as the government has promised to curb inflation heading into pivotal elections.
Erdoğan’s remarks come as Türkiye’s consumer price gains have been slowing down in the last five months, mainly driven by cooling energy and transportation costs, after a peak in October last year.
“By expanding contract-based production, we will guarantee the producer’s income, ensure the security of supply and prevent price fluctuations in food,” Erdoğan told an event in the Nurdağ district of the southeastern Gaziantep province on Saturday.
Gaziantep was one of the provinces hit hard by the devastating earthquakes that struck Türkiye’s southeastern region, killing over 50,000 people, razing hundreds of thousands of buildings, and destroying the infrastructure.
The tremors in early February also inflicted damage and loss to livestock, agricultural equipment and infrastructure, including greenhouses, irrigation, storage facilities and food and feed production facilities.
Gaziantep and the other 10 provinces hit by the disaster accounted for some 20% of Türkiye’s agricultural production, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). They also made 15% of Türkiye’s gross domestic product (GDP) and 18.7% of its agricultural and forestry exports.
The FAO estimates that the earthquakes have inflicted around $6.7 billion (TL 129.99 billion) in losses and damages to the region’s agriculture and livestock.
Erdoğan said Saturday they would support livestock in family-type enterprises with a contractual production model and provide at least one minimum wage guarantee to every household.
“To those living in villages, we will provide appropriate conditional financing to those who want to demolish their existing houses and get a solid, safe, technology-supported house by this model,” the president said.
Erdoğan stressed they would ensure more harvests and income by strengthening the pressurized irrigation infrastructure in agricultural production.
He also said a vital project would soon be commissioned to reduce external dependence on nitrogen fertilizers used in agricultural production.
Stabilizing price increases has been the top priority for the government ahead of the presidential and parliamentary elections set for May 14, which is seen as the most crucial vote in the century-long history of the republic.
An election manifesto by Erdoğan and his ruling party pledges to bring stubborn inflation down to single digits, boost growth and raise income.
In a separate event on Sunday, Erdoğan reiterated the aim and said necessary steps would be taken to bring down annual inflation from the current 50.5%.
The March reading marked a notable regress compared to the peak of 85.5% – a 24-year high – registered last October.
“We continue to take steps with a determination that will permanently reduce inflation to single digits,” Erdoğan said.
He also asserted those behind exploitative pricing will be held accountable after May 14.
“I am saying this very clearly; we will teach those who follow all kinds of wrong paths, especially in food, the necessary lesson with the legal regulations after May 14,” Erdoğan said.
Food inflation stood at 67.9% last month, easing down from an annual 69.3% in February. But households have been complaining about unprecedented volatility and hikes in food prices.
The government has urged businesses to do more to curb prices and ramped up inspections.
The government has sought to safeguard households through various measures, significantly raising the minimum wage, lifting state salaries, offering debt relief and hiking pensions for millions.
Others included a cap on rent increases, reduced taxes on utility bills, unveiling a significant housing project for low-income families, and a scheme that eliminates an age requirement and offers early retirement to millions of citizens in the first stage.