Stating, “The developments for grain and pulses production and trade have achieved the target during our ministry. We have accelerated the studies on diversification for quality and high capacity production”, the minister of Food, Agriculture and Livestock, M. Mehdi Eker also adds as follows about pulses: “So as not to have a problem in pulses production both today and in the future, and also in order to ensure the security of supply and remain as an exporter country, studies carried out by the Ministry are expedited.”
It seems that The Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock that has made significant efforts to increase agricultural production and particularly quality production in recent years will focus on pulses in the upcoming period. Having been The Minister of Food, Agriculture and Livestock for 10 years and contributed to the declaration of International Year of Pulses a lot, M. Mehdi EKER stated that they are preparing an Action Plan for International year of Pulses and determined 3 titles. Expressing these titles as “R&D studies and Production Increase”, “To increase pulses consumption and promotion of pulses” and “Contributions of pulses to health”, The Minister EKER also mentions that targets for production and trade of grain and pulses have been achieved during his ministry.
The minister EKER answered our Magazine’s questions about the works that he has done for the last 10 years and the works to be done in the upcoming period.
Mr. Eker, as The Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock, you have succeeded many works in an attempt to increase agricultural production and quality production in particular. Could you tell us about the works that you, as the ministry, have done for agricultural production (grain and pulses)?
Yes, in an attempt to increase the production and efficiency in agriculture, enhance the quality, infuse the product diversification and modern technics to the farmers, we carry out Plant Production Development Project in 81 cities.
In the last ten years of our country, we have recorded a significant progress in plant production using the existing agricultural infrastructure and potential. Through increased efficiency and quality along with the production, ensuring product diversification, forming the domestic and foreign market-oriented production and also using the product processing and evaluation capacity in a high level, our national income has increased in a considerable amount.
Within the frame of The Agricultural Law number 5488 enacted in 2006 in particular, priorities and targets of agricultural policies in Turkey have been decided. In an effort to reach these targets, a considerabl e increase in agricultural support has been recorded in recent years. We are supporting in many fields such as deficiency payments for plant production, certificated crop and sapling, the analysis of diesel-fertilizer-soil, organic farming practices, supporting the rural development investments. Besides, the efficiency of the supports given by the ministry and increase in quality production caused by carried operations reflect upon the plant production value of the products, increase the gross product of the agriculture sector and enhance the export capacity. In an attempt for producer, industrialists, tradesman, exporter and other related non-governmental organizations to take an active role in developing policies on grain and pulses, and also to solve the problems of the sector in a unity, National Pulses Council and National Grain Council have been founded in 2010.
On the other hand, we started significant studies for agricultural land reclamation. With the intent to give farm development services and reclaim the land by determining salty, salty-alkaline and alkaline lands with drainage failure due to the groundwater rise, closed drainage in farms and farm development services are being implemented. With these projects, increasing the agricultural production and efficiency is provided by decreasing the groundwater level under the plant roots and cleaning the salt in the areas with drainage failure and salty-alkaline lands. At the same time, agricultural infrastructure has been improved by reclaiming the lake areas in the villages and roads in the villages and on farms.
Within this frame, a closed drainage project has been completed so far on the land of 33 thousand hectare in the plain of Harran in Şanlıurfa. Farm drainage and farm development process have been completed in the area of 15 thousand hectare as well. While farm drainage and farm development processes are being completed on the area of 2 thousand 302 hectare in the plain of Amasya Suluova-Geldingen, 2 thousand of 590 hectare of the closed drainage project land which started on the land of 6 thousand 500 hectare in the plain of Mersin Aşağı Seyhan has been completed.
Within the context of the Rural Development Investment Program that we started in 2006 with an effort to enhance the agricultural production and quality, we donate 50 percent for the installation of individual pressure irrigation systems.
Thanks to the agricultural and meteorological observation station founded within the scope of TARBIL Project, and data of soil, topography and climate for all the products, early warning and immediate response for some diseases contribute the quality production
During your ministry, what developments have occurred for the production of grain and pulses in Turkey and foreign trade of these products? What is the current place of Turkey in global grain and pulses sector in terms of production and trade?
Total plant production amount of Turkey which was 98,1 million tons in 2002 has risen to 106,5 million tons in 2014 by increasing 8,6 percent. In this period, total value of plant products production has reached to 98 billion lira from 33 billion lira with an increase of 197 percent.
Although the production amount of pulses has regressed relatively in recent years, efficiency per unit area has increased in a considerable amount as a result of the policies implemented by the Ministry. In comparison to 2002, efficiency in lentil has risen 21 percent, chickpea 18 percent and dry beans 71 percent in 2014. Efficiency rate of pulses in Turkey is above the world average considering the current production amount per unit.
Just as our country has an important place in the world in terms of consumption amount of pulses products, it has had a role as an exporter country historically. As a country, we are involved in world markets with supply and demand conditions, price, cost, climate conditions and early harvest advantages.
Turkey is one of the most important lentil exporter countries thanks to its export amount of 202 thousand tons. Turkey exports pulses within the scope of Inward Processing Regime (IPR). By processing food, domestic value adding is provided through the export in question. So as not to have supply deficiency again, tariffs implemented in imports, custody rates, production, consumption and trade sector are observed in every aspect by the Ministry and required precautions are being taken. Increasing the deficiency payments for pulses has been ensured in 2015 and stubble planting system, precautions to allow for pulses in fallow lands and areas on alternation are being taken by the Ministry too.
Turkey has made a significant progress in export of wheat products in recent years. Thanks to these developments, Turkey has become one of the leading flour products exporters in the world. Nearly 2,2 million tons of flour, 735 thousand tons of pasta, 409 thousand tons of biscuit, 212 thousand tons of bulghur and 28 thousand tons of semolina have been exported in 2014. Value of this export activity is 2,52 billion dollar.
In the light of this information, Turkey is the leader flour exporter in 2011 on the basis of both amount and value. In 2012, Turkey ranks as second in amount and first in value; in 2013 it ranks as first both in amount and in value.
In pasta export, Turkey comes right after Italy. In 2013, pasta had the highest increase rate among the finished products.
By 2013, regarding the pulses production, world lentil production is 4,95 million tons and Turkey ranks as third in the world with 8,4 percent share (417 thousand tons). By 2013 again, global chickpea production is 13,1 million tons and Turkey ranks as forth with 3,9 percent share (506 thousand tons). Likewise, by 2013, global dry beans production is 23,1 million tons and Turkey ranks as twenty third with 0,8 percent share (195 thousand tons). Besides being an important country in global pulses production and trade, its share in global pulses trade is 3 percent.
Turkey is a self-sufficient country in pulses. According to the data of 2012 and 2013, self-sufficiency of Turkey is 122 percent in lentil (4kg/year per capita), 100 percent in chickpea (6 kg/year per capita), and 83 percent in dry bean (3 kg/year per capita).
In 2014, the production amount of corn has increased 170 percent, of paddy rice 131 percent, of rye 36 percent, in comparison to 2001. Wheat has the same yield as it is in 2001 and the production is 19 million tons in 2014.
Have the developments in grain and pulses production and trade reached to the point that you targeted during your ministry? What are your targets about grain and pulses production and trade and also the projects that you are planning?
The developments for grain and pulses production and trade have achieved the target during our ministry. We have accelerated the studies on diversification for quality and high capacity production. Since 1963, 107 edible pulses types in total have been developed by public, university and private sector. All the types being used currently in pulses production in Turkey are the local types that were developed in research institutes of the Ministry. 33 pulses project in total are being carried out at the institutions and stations of the Ministry. So as not to have a problem in pulses production both today and in the future, and also in order to ensure the security of supply and remain as an exporter country, studies carried out by the Ministry are expedited.
Due to the drought in 2014, Turkey had some loss in comparison to the previous years. Increase potential for production has risen through the winter falls in 2015. What could you tell us about the decrease amount in 2014 and the effects of this to the sector?
Despite the drought and unfavorable climate conditions last year, efficiency per unit has increased in general depending on the increase in irrigated farming areas. Accordingly, total grain production of Turkey which was 30,8 million tons in 2002 reached to 32,7 million tons in 2014 by increasing 6,11 percent.
As well as the general policies determined in the frame of the Agricultural Law with regard to agricultural sector, strategic plan, strategic area, aims and targets for 2013-2017 period of the Ministry have been determined. Thus, a strategic plan has been formed to provide the desired infrastructural transformation, prevent or reduce the effects of global climate change and possible crises and enable the adaptation to international obligations.
Evaluating the supply and demand condition of wheat that is strategically important for Turkey, wheat production is between 17,2 and 22,05 million tons while cultivated area has remained between 7,5 and 9,8 million hectare for the last twenty years. In parallel with increased population, considering the increased wheat demand and consumption amount of wheat-based products like bread and bulghur, including feed, it seems that the need for wheat is around 18,5 and 19 million tons in Turkey. Minimum annual wheat requirement is 17.504.887 tons considering annual per capita consumption amount which is 225,3 kg, according to the data of 2013. Thus, wheat supply of Turkey is sufficient.
Forecasted amount for agricultural supports in 2015 has appeared in recent news. You are planning to increase subsidy supports 100 percent for pulses in particular. You also led FAO to announce the year 2016 as International Year of Pulses. What is the target of the Ministry for pulses? Can we expect a considerable increase in pulses production of Turkey in the following years?
So as not to have a problem in pulses production both today and in the future, and also in order to ensure the security of supply and remain as an exporter country, studies carried out by the Ministry are expedited. By increasing the deficiency payments for pulses 100 percent in 2015, the Ministry has determined it as 20 kuruş per kg and determined payments for using the certified crop as 12 lira per decare. We increased the subsidy for diesel which was 4,60 TL per decare in 2014 to 4,85 TL in 2015, we also increased the subsidy for fertilizer to 6,60 TL. Besides, subsidy for soil analysis will remain as 2,5 TL per decare in 2015 as well.
What kind of studies and activities will be conducted within the scope of 2016 International Year of Pulses? Could you give our readers some information on this subject?
An Action Plan for the activities regarding International Year of Pulses was prepared by the Ministry in 2014 and three titles were determined: R&D studies, increase in production, increase in pulses consumption and promotion of pulses, contributions of pulses to a healthy diet…
Within these titles, decisions that were taken are as follow: subsidies sent to provincial directorate for the projects regarding edible pulses within Plant Production Projects will be used to strengthen the cooperation. A common public service ad will be prepared by the Ministry so as to inform and guide the farmers about pulses cultivation, product competition and equipment. There has been a decrease in production due to the fact that edible pulses, notably the industrial plants, cultivated areas, have turned into irrigated farming lands in GAP (Southeastern Anatolia Project). Research institutes/stations and Provincial directorates will expedite the required education-publication studies in an effort to increase the cold-resistant species. As well as the activities for 2016 International Year of Pulses, live TV programs that experts will attend will be prepared in order to create awareness. Edible pulses will be considered important additionally during the group meeting of provinces and regions. Studies will be made to strengthen the institutional capacity. In an effort to ensure the publication projects regarding the edible pulses to appear more within the scope of intensification activities for the agricultural innovations, subsidies, which were sent to the provincial directorates for the projects regarding the edible pulses within the scope of Plant Production Projects of the Ministry, will be used to strengthen the cooperation. Printed mass media such as Magazines, leaflets, brochures and posters etc. about pulses will be prepared and reproduced by the Ministry and sent to the provinces. Leading farmers who has conducts successful operations about pulses will be filmed and studies will start to use it in the education-publication operations throughout the country. Required works will be made to conduct encouraging prize competitions about pulses such as photographs; paintings etc. considering the role of pulses on a healthy and balanced diet, academicians will be included in the subject and cooperation with state institutions and organizations, particularly the Ministry of Health, by pointing out pulses to fight for obesity.
Within this action plan, a workshop for edible pulses was carried out by the ministry in Konya with the participation of all the shareholders on 5-6 March 2014. In this workshop, a final declaration was prepared by working for pulses cultivation, pulses trade and increasing pulses consumption.
Besides, so as to form marketing strategies to enhance the production and consumption of pulses, which has been cultivated in Turkey traditionally but has lost its place due to changing consumption habits in recent years, to raise awareness among producers and consumers and also all the segments of society, a meeting for 2016 International Year of Pulses was carried on 30 January 2015. It occurred in accordance with the strategies of the ministry and with the participation of related state institutions and organizations, shareholders in the sector, non-governmental organizations and leading farmers. In the promotion program, “Edible Pulses” and “Pulses Recipes” were distributed. Meals and desserts that were prepared regarding the recipes in Pulses Recipes Book were presented to the participants. Moreover, pre-school children made shows about pulses to create awareness in all segments of society.