“The most important problem at cereal is that cultivation area of wheat, the strategic product, has been reduced. Fifteen years ago, the cultivation area was nine million hectare but now it is 7.5 million hectare. New policies should be determined and implemented,” Özkan Taşpınar, the Chairman of the Executive Board of the National Cereal Council (UHK), said.
During the 8th Financial General Assembly of the National Cereal Council, participants discussed the sector’s problems. Özkan Taşpınar, the Chairman of the Executive Board of UHK, said that cereal has strategic importance in the face of increasing population, adding that Turkey can gain more in export by adding value to cereal.
“We should seek ways to add maximum value to agricultural products that we produce. We have to build our plans and targets on the top 5 in the world in agriculture. The most important problem at cereal is that cultivation area of wheat, the strategic product, has decreased. Fifteen years ago, the cultivation area was nine million hectare but now is 7.5 million hectare. New policies should be determined and implemented immediately. Considering the seed amount, we should cultivate at least 18-20 million tons of wheat. It is also important to raise the wheat incentives to 10 kuruş from 5 kuruş that had been in force for eight years. However, this support should be reconsidered by taking into account the prescription and costs regionally and should be increased to 25-35 kuruş per kilogram,” Taşpınar said.
Calling for switching to the controlled agriculture, he said, “The agriculture’s dependency on climate conditions should be reduced. If fallow lands are irrigated, annual agricultural revenue will increase 20 billion Turkish liras more. For sustainable agriculture and productivity, water transfer between basins should be carried out within the framework of specific principles. Additionally, the water system should be modernized. Because of the government’s decision to rent empty lands, we support the decision and attach great importance from the agricultural point of view that these lands go into production. If necessary, we can rent other countries’ land as we did in Sudan, and we have to cultivate cereal instead of importing in exchange for finished product.”
‘STATE SHOULD SUPPORT WHEAT’
Ömer Zeydan, a member of executive board of Turkish Union of Chambers and Exchange Commodities and the chairman of Eskişehir Chamber of Commerce, said that farmers gave up the cultivation of wheat partially since price hike in fuel, fertilizer, and pesticide was not reflected the wheat price. “When you look at the price of wheat globally, you can think that the price is the same. However, Turkey should support wheat – the strategic product – at any cost. At this point, the steps taken by the government are very important. Nonetheless, on the other hand, we have to import the quality wheat. Therefore, we have to focus on the productivity and quality of wheat very carefully and eagerly. Turkey is a shining country in the agricultural field in Europe and the world but has the potential to do more. At this point, it should carry out its studies immediately. We should determine national agriculture and husbandry policies that should be sustainable, planned, and national and covers at least 15-20 years in a bid to lower the import and increase the export. And we should implement these policies strictly,” he said.