Tobacco is an important source of income for farmers in Adiyaman (Semsur). Last year, 20,000 tons of tobacco was produced in an area of 161,000 decares in the city. However, tobacco growers from Adıyaman reduced their tobacco planting due to quotas imposed by the government. The increase in taxes has also detrimentally affected them. They are also outraged by “illegal” accusations that have reportedly been levelled against them by the government.
The rate of domestic tobacco use of cigarette manufacturing companies located in Turkey was 42% in 2003. The decrease in tobacco production, which is the source of livelihood for thousands of people and where approximately 40,000 families are involved, is more visible in Adiyaman. Although the official figures on this issue are not known, hundreds of producers in the city can no longer grow tobacco. Nearly 70,000 people migrate to other cities as seasonal agricultural workers.
Hayriye Çalışkan has been working in a tobacco field since her childhood. “We don’t have any other income. We all make a living with tobacco. We buy books for our children with tobacco. Our children can marry because of it. Our children cannot go to school if we don’t grow tobacco,” she states, explaining the level of dependency many have with this crop.
Since unemployment is among the biggest problems in Turkey, life in either rural or urban areas is difficult. Hüseyin Uzun has two college degrees but could not find a job in the city and came back to his hometown and is currently working in the fields. He is again facing the threat of unemployment.
“The tax on limited fields is about 60%. If this tax is applied, we cannot survive: our expenses are too high. Our demand from the government is that they should not interfere with us: they should not make us a tool in their politics. Our diesel expenses have doubled: it is very difficult.”