Featured image: The producers only get a fraction of the market price of the agricultural goods. Source: agroberichtenbuitenland.nl
Despite the costs of food has rapidly been increasing in the last years in Turkey, the peasants are left with nothing. The annual inflation rate was over 58% in August, accelerating for the second month in a row. Estimate is that it will reach 65% in the end of the year. In 2022, it was reported that price of food had increased with almost 90% since the year before.
For example, milk is sold in the market by 34 to 40 Turkish Liras (TL) per liter, but the producers only get 10 TL from selling to dairies. In 2022 it was reported that production costs of some agricultural products have tripled. The newspaper Yeni Demokrasi reports on the situation of poor peasants in Ardahan, north-eastern Turkey, who are not able to make ends meet. The price which the middlemen pay to the peasants is not even enough to cover the expenses of producing the milk. One of the peasants says herding milk cattle is the only thing the peasants are able to do in the area, and it is their sole income. Traders, who go around from village to village, force peasants to make agreements for a year in advance, buying for a very low price and paying in cash, and then selling the milk forward with high profit. What the peasants can buy with the money becomes less and less every day in a country with such a rampant inflation as Turkey.
Similar situation is experienced all over Turkey and in all agriculture. In the situation the traders and monopolies make astonishing profits, meanwhile the smaller peasants, who form the basis of the Turkish agriculture, and the “consumers”, the deepest and broadest masses, are starving and suffering. Another example is the struggle of the peasants in Urfa, who are being robbed and extorted by the electricity company DEDAŞ in Urfa, on which we have reported earlier. Yeni Demokrasi reported in the end of August on the situation of the peasants and seasonal workers on the fields, producing sun-dried tomatoes that are exported to Europe. The newspaper denounces that most of the seasonal workers are children of the age of 9 to 17, and because of the outages, some of the crop has been destroyed, and the workers do not get cold water in the scorching heat. “I can chop 40 boxes of tomatoes a day. In return, I get 5 TL per case. We earn an average of 200 TL per day. I’ve been working in this job since I was 10 years old. I give the money I earn to my family so they can buy me clothes”, a child worker said to the newspaper. And despite all the toiling, the peasants and workers do not make ends meet: in this case, tomatoes are bought by traders for 3 TL and sold on the market for 15. “It is not us, but the middlemen who earn. They are the ones who get the cream, but we bear all the trouble”, says one of the peasants.
In the last decades, large privatizations and so-called “liberation” of the market in favor of the imperialists has been done in Turkey, and increasingly the big landlords and foreign monopolies are forcing the smaller peasants into debt traps, forcing to sell their land and exploiting them, and forcing many to leave for the cities or to become seasonal workers, as there is no land and no income in the villages. “We do this job because our family has always done this job. We don’t know any other job. We don’t know what we would do if we quit this job. There is nothing else we can do, but it is better not to plant at all than to lose money every year. If it continues like this, we will no longer plant crops and become seasonal workers for the West”, a peasant describes the situation to Yeni Demokrasi.