Bekir Pakdemirli, the Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, said that he would not turn blind-eye to speculation over the wheat and bread of poor people. On the wheat controversy, he said, “Turkey is self-sufficient in the wheat production.”
Bekir Pakdemirli, the Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, attended the 2019 Budget Meetings at the Committee on Planning and Budget of the National Assembly. During the meeting, the minister provided information about the wheat production, agricultural support, treatment facility of drinking water, and red and white meat production.
There has been an ongoing debate on the wheat in Turkey. Speaking about this debate, Pakdemirli said, “Turkey produces 21.5 million tons of wheat. While Turkey exports 7.35 million tons of wheat, it imports 5 million tons. In fact, the import and export are not on the balance. If we do not import, the flour and pasta factories will stand idle. I will not let speculations over the wheat and bread of poor people. Turkey is self-sufficient in the wheat production.”
Providing examples from the 2017 data, he said, “The vegetative production was 120 million tons at the end of 2017. We will increase this to 122 million tons in 2019 and 150 million tons in 2023. The animal production was 24 million tons, but this production will increase to 26.6 million tons in 2019 and 29.7 million tons in 2023. The agricultural harvest was 190 billion Turkish liras in 2017. The agricultural export was USD3.752 billion but in 2017 it is USD 17 billion. The first nine months of 2018, it reached USD 12.515 billion. Turkey has a surplus of USD 4.2 billion in the foreign trade of agriculture and food products.”
Giving information on the agricultural support, Pakdemirli noted, “We mobilized the state’s all means in this regard. We increased the support provided to the farmer every year that was 1.8 billion Turkish liras in 2002. In 2017, 12.9 billion Turkish liras were provided to the farmer. In 2018, until now, the support amount reached 12.4 billion Turkish liras, and we would increase to 14.5 billion Turkish liras. So, by taking into consideration this figure, we distributed 117.4 billion Turkish liras in the last sixteen years. In 2019, we will increase the support figure by 10.7 percent compared to this year, and it will reach 16.1 billion Turkish liras in total.”
The minister said that the lowering of interest rate on agricultural loans varying between 25 and 100 percent depending on the activity has been in force since 2016. “Producers can have subsidized loans whose interest rate is between 0 and 8.25 percent. In the first nine months of 2018, Ziraat Bank and the Agricultural Credit Cooperatives provided the agricultural loans of 29.3 billion Turkish liras to farmers. In 2002, the loan repayment to Ziraat Bank was 38 percent. In 2017, this repayment rate is 99.1 percent. TIGEM distributed 148 thousand tons of certified cereal seed in 2017. It aims to distribute 170 thousand tons in 2018 and 200 thousand tons in 2019,” he said.