Rising costs push farmers into poverty or out of production

Rising costs push farmers into poverty or out of production

Farmers hardly endure rising costs and a lot many farmers have started to leave the soil, survey found.(Photo: Cihan)

August 31, 2014, Sunday/ 17:55:54/ TODAY'S ZAMAN | ISTANBUL

Falling profitability amid ever growing costs have been increasingly pushing more farmers out of production, resulting in the dangerous expansion of the area of uncultivated arable areas, a recent survey by the research company Gezici has shown.

According to the survey, which was conducted in 152 districts and 180 villages in 26 provinces throughout regions all across Turkey, 64.5 percent of farmers say their earnings are not sufficient to cover even their basic needs. Of the respondents, 87.6 percent noted that they have no money left to save after making obligatory payments and clearing their pending debts, 74.2 percent responded affirmatively to a question asking whether the number of their livestock was in decline, and 65.9 percent think the state must raise already generous subsidies for the farming sector to keep it afloat. The poll surveyed 1,292 people, 646 of whom were women.

The factor costs, including diesel, fertilizer, seed, pesticides and labor have registered manifold increases in the the last years, far surpassing the rates of increases in the prices of the products. For instance, the price of diesel has reached a level four times higher than it was seven years ago.

In the same time period, fertilizer and forage costs increased to three to four times their original levels and electricity prices two to two-and-a-half times. Again in the last seven years, an estimated 2 million farmers gave up cultivating their lands and immigrated to city centers, most to try to enter into the construction and service sectors.
Farmers face additional challenges these days due to the extraordinarily adverse weather conditions including drought, frost and floods.

Assessing the survey results in an interview with Cihan News Agency, Doctor Mustafa Kaymakçı from the faculty of agriculture at Ege University said farmers are in trouble these days as costs are surging while the price of produce is not increasing enough to match them.

“Farmers are continuing to cultivate their lands but they are not able to make enough revenue out of it,” he said, adding that this unsustainable situation is compelling them to quit farming in the prematurely. “There is a significant decline in the [number of] farmers these days, and this is not a situation that is only peculiar to Turkey. It is valid all over the world. But the world has just realized this and started to take measures,” said Kaymakçı.

For example, the United Nations declared 2014 as the year of Family Farming, to underline the threat the small farmers face against the large farming corporations, he said.

Agricultural Engineers Chamber (ZMO) board member Professor Bülent Gülçubuk also asserted that the exorbitant increases in the price of diesel and fertilizers beyond the appreciation rates of produce prices is working to the detriment of farming as a whole. It will cause problems not only in agriculture but also in animal husbandry, he noted.

For Gülçubuk, the multilayered structure of the marketing of agricultural production is one of the underlying factors of falling relative revenues of the producers. Due to their lack of effective organizational abilities in marketing their products, the farmers are made to concede lower profits compared to the amount earned by intermediary agents between the farmers and consumers, he said. But more importantly, the real problem for the farmers is still the extraordinary difference between the rise in the factor costs and the final price of the products, he added.

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