Trabzon Chamber of Agriculture Engineers Chairman Cemil Pehlevan: “The vegetable consumption is increasing continuously in the world however we have seen our vegetable production areas decline from 900.000 hectares in 2001 to 784.000 hectares in the last 17 years. This marked decline has occurred despite a steady increase in the Turkish population. Furthermore, the number of tourists visiting our country and the immigrants we have received in the last decade have increased the market demand for vegetables even more yet vegetable production areas in the country has shrunk dramatically since 2001.
Vegetable production is an important source of revenue for many growers from different regions of Turkey and it creates a lot of jobs for our people. Despite the decline in production areas, we have actually observed a rise in vegetable production however we do not have exact knowledge about domestic market consumption and export volumes that’s why there is a need to have a master plan to align the production with the demand from domestic and export markets.
Most of the vegetable production in our country takes place in the open field however in the last decade, we have also seen a shift to greenhouse production. The biggest issue in vegetable production right now in the country is the sales and marketing of the products. As there is no master production plan, there is also no regulatory body which can store the products when there is excess supply and offer it to the market place whenever there is a shortage of that particular product. These two missing elements in our industry leaves the market open to manipulation and creates a lot of problems in matching the supply to the demand.
European Union is spending 40% of its budget to agricultural funding whereas this figure is only 2% in our country. According to the national budget of 2018, the government was planning to spend approximately 6 billion USD for agricultural funding however they have only spent 2.2 billion USD.
The decline in vegetable production areas is an alarming trend for the future. If this trend continues, our citizens will experience supply shortages in the near future. Consequently, the prices of the vegetables will increase which always creates unrest in society.
We also need to take into account that agriculture industry is the industry that will be most affected by the climate change so as a country we really need to prepare against climate change and adjust our production accordingly. The problems we have experienced as a country in the last year with high potato, onion and tomato prices and supply shortages cannot be solved by changing wholesale hall regulations or imports. We need to solve the problems in agricultural production. The state should ensure that the growers have access to production items such as fertilizers, seeds, and chemicals at global price rates and organize the growers through a master agricultural plan. This way growers will be able to offer their products at competitive prices to the domestic and export markets which in turn will cut our dependency to imported goods. Production planning is an absolute must to match the supply and demand and prevent price fluctuations in the market place.”