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Minister Pakdemirli: Digital Agriculture Market will provide great convenience to farmers

Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Bekir Pakdemirli spoke at the 1st Turkey Farmer’s Summit organized by SABAH, the flagship of Turkuvaz Media Group, under the auspices of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. Minister Bekir Pakdemirli stated that the draft law on contract production is in the Parliament. Minister Pakdemirli said that the Digital Agriculture Market application will provide great convenience to the farmer.

After the opening speech of Ceyda Uzman, General Manager of Sabah and Daily Sabah Advertising and Member of the Executive Board of Print Media, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Bekir Pakdemirli answered the questions of Sabah Newspaper Deputy Economy Manager and Columnist Dilek Gungor and Sabah Newspaper Ankara Representative and Columnist Okan Muderrisoglu.

The statements of the Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Bekir Pakdemirli are as follows:

We launched the Digital Agriculture Market application. This application also covers the contract platform. Together with contract agriculture, it solves the farmer’s access to the market and the financing problem. It offers stable price. Price fluctuations can be avoided. It is one of the most important issues of the Food Committee.

Minister Pakdemirli said, “There is a general perception about imported seeds. We have roughly 1000 seed companies in Turkey. 940 of them are domestic companies. There are 42 foreign companies. There are 22 domestic and foreign partner companies. When we go to the field, Turkey’s proficiency is 96%. That is, if we have 100 acres of land, 96 of them are domestic. Turkey has a very serious export. There is an export of $162 million. Turkey is a very successful country in this regard.

Minister Pakdemirli drew attention to misperceptions and said, “Turkey is a seed exporter country”. Pakdemirli noted that they started a project with TUBITAK for vegetable seeds.

Pakdemirli added that Turkey has taken important steps in the field of agriculture with support and measures.

“TURKEY WILL NOT EXPERIENCE A DROUGHT IN FOOD SAFETY”

Bekir Pakdemirli, upon a question regarding the drought problem, stated that although the desired precipitation was not seen last year, they did not allow agricultural drought and continued his words as follows:

“The reason for this is that we have storage systems. This year, there is a 25% decline compared to last year. We had a serious problem with vegetation in unirrigated areas. Turkey was affected to a certain extent. Of course, what did we do about it? Support had to be given to our farmers affected by the drought. Support amounting to ₺151 per decare was announced by our President. The loss right now is not a loss we cannot overcome. With Turkey’s production, TMO and the stocks of the market, and the foreign trade measures we have taken, Turkey will not experience any droughts in food security. But we can experience this drought continuously.”

Pakdemirli called on the farmers to take out TARSIM insurance and said that the drought could still be experienced from now on, and that they were in a very variable climate period.

“NECESSARY MEASURES ABOUT DROUGHT HAVE BEEN TAKEN”

Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Pakdemirli stated that the biggest measure against drought is to “increase irrigation investments” and that they have made an important breakthrough in this regard, and said, “We are increasing our irrigation investments as quickly as possible. We are trying to support our farmers as much as possible. Everyone in the markets should have peace of mind. Necessary measures have been taken regarding the drought. Turkey will not have a problem today or tomorrow as it did yesterday.”

Reminding the rumors that bread prices will increase, Pakdemirli said, “For the last 2 years, the industrialist has been supported by TMO for wheat supply. Our support will continue from now on. I think that there will not be excessive increases in bread prices.”

Referring to the studies on food safety, Pakdemirli explained that they convened the Agriculture Council, which was held in 2004, after 15 years, that they brought all the stakeholders together, that they came up with an action plan with a common mind, and that they followed the results.

Stating that they are constantly on the field and listening to the problems, Pakdemirli said, “All numbers have been improving in the last 3 years and there is only one reason for this improvement in my opinion; we are on the field.”

“TURKEY NEEDS TO GO TO CONTRACTED PRODUCTION AS SOON AS POSSIBLE”

Minister Pakdemirli, on the question of the price increase in the products on the way from the field to the table, said that there are some structural problems in this regard and that they are lacking in contracted production.

Emphasizing that Turkey should switch to contracted production, Pakdemirli made the following assessments:

“Our draft law regarding this is in the Parliament. It is a very well-studied bill. In my opinion, contract production is one of the most important projects we will do in the Ministry as of today, in the last 2 years, in our remaining time. Turkey needs to start contracted production as soon as possible. This transition may not happen all at once. I think it is very important for both farmers, traders, exports and production balance.”

While referring to the Digital Agricultural Market projects, Pakdemirli noted that this practice can prevent price fluctuations in agriculture and ensure that the products reach the table from the farm to the table in a much more stable way.

“THE RATE OF DOMESTIC SEED IN FIELDS IS 96%”

Bekir Pakdemirli, when asked about domestic seed studies, stated that there is an incorrect perception about imported seed, and stated that 940 of 1,000 seed companies in Turkey have domestic, 42 local and others domestic-foreign partnerships.

Pakdemirli said, “Turkey’s proficiency in the field is 96%. In other words, 96 of the 100 decares of land are domestic. Turkey has a very serious export. It is a country that exports $162 million. Turkey is very successful in this regard. Aren’t there areas where we can improve ourselves? I don’t want to be super good at everything, that is. There are 2 fields, one is foundation seed. We need to work on developing this a little more. Secondly, we have a shortage of vegetable seeds. There is some import dependency in vegetable seeds. There is no problem with seeds in Turkey. We are a seed exporting country.”

Referring to the work for young and female farmers, Pakdemirli said, “One way or another, we need to convince our young people to stay where they were born. But in order for a person to be convinced to stay where they were born, they must be satisfied in the place where they were born. We need to turn them into entrepreneurs.”

Expressing that they attach great importance to women and young people staying where they were born, Pakdemirli said:

“The pandemic period has actually been an opportunity for us in this regard as well. In other words, we encountered an audience who studied but thought to escape from the cities. We thought there was an opportunity here. We conducted various studies and prepared brochures. We will protect our existing farmers, we will motivate them, we will say ‘produce’. And we need to include new ones in this business. Of course, most importantly, we will support and continue to support our young and entrepreneurial women and young people, not those who are older than a certain age.”

Pakdemirli, on the question of whether there is any data about the young people returning to their hometowns and agriculture during the epidemic process, said, “There is no statistics, there is observation. There is an incredible enthusiasm and desire to turn back again. We can understand this from here, the prices of agricultural land in Turkey have increased at least 3 times in the last 3 years.”

“WE NEED TO TREAT WATER SOURCES VERY WELL”

Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Pakdemirli stated that Turkey is a candidate to become a dry country and that is why they have started to commission underground dams, they aim to complete 150 by 2023, and 50 underground dams will be completed by the end of 2021.

Mentioning the benefits of underground dams against drought, Pakdemirli said that since there is no evaporation, water can be preserved much better, there are no expropriation costs, and sociological problems do not arise.

Emphasizing that water resources should be treated very well, Pakdemirli said, “We need to increase water resources. We need to reduce the expenditure here. The lion’s share of the expenditure here belongs to the agricultural sector. We must find a way to use this water with more rational methods.”

Expressing that the growth lasting for 11 quarters in agriculture has been reflected to the farmers, Pakdemirli continued his words as follows:

“I don’t know a farmer who is not satisfied with the price of grain, barley, wheat and apricot. I do not know a farmer who is not satisfied with the price of hazelnuts and pulses. In other words, we made a promise that we will not leave a problematic product in the field, a product that is said to not make money, within a year with the Presidential Government System… We had the chance to do this in 2019. In 2020, we continued this despite the pandemic, and despite the pandemic, the farmer sold his product and earned money. There may be some exceptions, but in general, we have always shown that we are one with the farmer. In that sense, the farmer somehow earned the money.”

“THE OPPOSITION IS TRYING TO CREATE A WRONG PERCEPTION”

Minister Pakdemirli, reminded of the claims that “Turkey has ceased to be a self-sufficient country in agriculture” and “has become an importer in agriculture”, made the following assessments:

“Of course, the opposition is trying to produce an argument here. In other words, they are trying to put forward a false perception here. I always say that agriculture is the strategic sector and we need to bring in new stakeholders here. When we create a wrong perception, instead of bringing new stakeholders to agriculture, we are also asking ‘Do I make money or not?’ They make people worry. They make claims from time to time, so you look at it that way. You say ‘is it this or something? Imports…. What imports? You see, Turkey imported 2 thousand tons of straw in the period they said that. When you say straw, it’s a return of 1,000 products, from insect nests to insect beds within the customs tariff position… Let’s say they’re all straw. Because importing hay does not make sense. It doesn’t make much sense to bring a product that costs at most ₺1 from Europe, but if there is a need, Turkey will do it. Turkey is not a closed Cuba, it will do it if needed. We imported 2 thousand tons of straw at that time, but they don’t read the other side of the balance sheet. There are also 84 thousand tons of exports there. In other words, provided that such a lie, such a fanaticism and a wrong image are put forward, I will not be able to manage these affairs with the logic of stealing a vote or just opposing power in my media. These are not favors for Turkey. It is not a favor to Turkey’s food security. It is not a favor to Turkey’s farmers.”

Ceyda Uzman, General Manager of Sabah and Daily Sabah Advertising and Member of the Executive Board of Print Media, in her opening speech, stated that the agricultural sector has a strategic importance in almost every country that requires state intervention without being completely left to market economy conditions. She emphasized that agriculture in Turkey is seen as an area that should be protected and supported due to its different characteristics from other sectors in terms of both society and economy. Stating that the increase in the world population and urbanization has also increased the demand for food, Uzman said, “In order to feed the world population, which is expected to reach 9 billion in the next 25-30 years, more food production will be needed than the total of the last 10 thousand years. It is the responsibility of all people of the world to support farmers and not waste their efforts. With this responsibility, we wanted to focus on the agriculture sector at our summit with 3 main topics that we consider important.”

Noting that as Sabah Newspaper, they carry out works that contribute to the economic and social development of our country, Uzman said, “In this context, we are also aware of how important the agricultural sector is, as Turkey is an agriculture and livestock country. As Sabah Newspaper, I would like to express that we are a collaborator in all these studies that can contribute to the sustainable prosperity and success of our country and that we are happy to take on the role of strategic partner.”

The 1st Turkey Farmers’ Summit was held under the auspices of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry of the Republic of Turkey, under the sponsorship of Koza Gold Enterprises, Ziraat Bank, Cargill, Aynes, Aegean Exporters’ Associations and TARSIM.

Ayse Aysin Isikgece, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, said, “There are 2.7 million farmers, 23.1 million hectares of agricultural land, 14.6 million hectares of pasture land in Turkey. We have 73 million livestock.”

A panel titled “Agricultural Technologies and Digital Agriculture” was held within the scope of the 1st Turkey Farmers Summit organized by Turkuvaz Media.

Speaking at the panel, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Isikgece talked about their work on how agricultural data should be interpreted and processed digitally.

Stating that there are 2.7 million farmers, 23.1 million hectares of agricultural land, 14.6 million hectares of pasture land, and 22.6 million hectares of forest in Turkey, Isikgece said that they carry out water management in an area of 6.6 million hectares and they have 73 million livestock.

Isikgece said, “In order for all of these to be synchronized and under our management, the digital side must be read and interpreted correctly. In this sense, the use of modern techniques and the fact that this directs the production of the farmer and grower shows the efficiency of the work done.”

Stating that there are very serious digitalization studies on the livestock side, Isikgece said that they attach great importance to digitalization studies in production, agriculture and livestock.

Isikgece stated that they realized the Digital Agriculture Market project last year and noted that thanks to the project, price fluctuations will be prevented and continuity in agriculture will be ensured.

“SOCIAL MEDIA USE BY FARMERS IS ABOVE THE COUNTRY AVERAGE”

Turkcell General Manager Murat Erkan stated that almost every farmer has a smart phone and said that these farmers use technology widely.

Stating that the use of social media by farmers is above the Turkey average, Erkan said that the producers set up groups among themselves through social media and share their experiences with each other.

Mentioning the digital services they offer as a company for farmers, Erkan pointed out the contributions of digital technologies to sustainability and productivity increase.

“NEED TO ACCELERATE THE WORK OF CONSOLIDATION”

Sanko Holding Honorary President Abdulkadir Konukoglu pointed out that the biggest problem in agriculture is the consolidation of lands, and said that some lands could not be cultivated.

Konukoglu said, “Consolidation work is also going very slowly. It is necessary to speed up. For good farming, there must be at least 1,000 decares of land. Tractors and agricultural machinery need to have such a large land in order to become more productive.”

Emphasizing that studies on which crops will be planted in which region and this should be planned, Konukoglu noted that productivity can be increased with this planning.

“OUR AGRICULTURAL LOANS REACHED ₺94 BILLION”

Speaking at the panel titled “Rural Development and Support Packages in Agriculture” held within the scope of the Summit, Ziraat Bank Deputy General Manager Ferhat Pismaf stated that Ziraat Bank has given the greatest weight to the agricultural sector and said, “The field that Ziraat Bank has given the greatest support to date is agriculture and agricultural production. In line with its founding mission, the Bank continues to extend an increasing amount of loans every day. It is the agricultural policies and strategies of the country that determine our credit policies, how much credit we will give, and which products we will give credit to. We are going where the strategies are going.”

Emphasizing that Ziraat Bank is the bank that gives the most loans in Turkey today, Pismaf said:

“Turkey’s number one bank in corporate loans and individual loans. We follow our agricultural loans within corporate loans, and when we distinguish between these corporate loans, the agriculture sector ranks first with a share of 21%. As of today, we have reached a balance of approximately ₺94 billion. Our loans, which we extend only directly to producers, are at the level of ₺94 billion. In addition to the financing we give directly to the producers, the loans we give to other financing, to the whole chain, which we can call the agricultural sector, when we take into account the other loans in that chain, are over ₺130 billion.”

Deputy Chairman of the Agriculture and Rural Development Support Institution (ARDSI), Muhammed Adak, conveying that 80% of the population in Turkey lives in the city and 20% in the countryside, “Academics, scientists, ministries and investors are currently struggling to see how we can reverse this. Our aim is to raise the welfare level of the rural population, who have been disadvantaged in rural development efforts, to save them from this disadvantaged situation.”

“FOOD SAFETY APPROACH MUST BE SUPPORTED”

Tarik Tezel, Chairman of the Turkish Dairy, Meat, Food Industrialists’ and Producers’ Association (SETBIR), stated that the world once again remembers the importance of nutrition in a way that strengthens the immune system, with the Covid-19 outbreak, he added saying that it was once again understood that sustainable agriculture and animal husbandry is an indispensable and vital necessity for all segments of the world.

Tezel said, “While the world population is increasing rapidly, especially in developing countries, the rate of urbanization is increasing accordingly. With the increasing population and urbanization, fundamental changes in food production and consumption processes and changes in food sources cause the food chain to prolong, thus increasing the financing need of the value chain. For this reason, supporting the food safety approach in order to ensure the welfare of the society in terms of both health and economy is one of the systems that should be implemented in every country. On the basis of this, of course, is sustainable agricultural production.”

Source: Sabah / Translated by Irem Yildiz

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