Kurdish farmers in Bozova (Hewag), a district in Turkey’s southeastern Urfa (Riha) province, are facing multiple challenges arising from the Turkish government’s agricultural policies, leaving them in precarious circumstances and many are considering leaving their lands, a Mezopotamya Agency report reveals.
These challenges arise from a combination of detrimental agricultural policies, a deepening economic crisis, and other adverse factors.
The economic crisis has been exacerbated by the recent elections, which led to a significant devaluation of the exchange rate. As a consequence, farmers have encountered immense difficulties in selling their produce. Moreover, the rising prices of essential inputs such as diesel oil, fertilisers and seeds have added to their woes. Climate change has also played a role, adversely affecting agricultural lands so that they are now being used for non-agricultural purposes. As a result, farmers find themselves unable to sustain their production.
In the Kargılı (Cewsaq) neighbourhood of Bozova, some farmers remain steadfast in their determination to produce crops despite these adversities. However, their efforts seem increasingly futile as the future of agriculture hangs in the balance.
One such farmer is 30-year-old Vedat Yıldırım, who has been cultivating in the area for the past 15 years. Yıldırım recounted the deteriorating conditions that have unfolded in recently. There is insufficient solidarity among farmers, leading to a quota problem that hampers effective production. The consequence is a surplus of unsold products. This year, Yıldırım undertook the cultivation of 10 acres of watermelon, incurring substantial expenses along the way. He paid 140,000 Turkish Liras solely for seedlings, 20,000 TL for labour, 70,000 TL for fertilisers, 5,000 TL for diesel oil, and an additional 15,000 TL for pesticides (a total of 250,000 TL or 8800 Euros). Unfortunately, disease has infected the watermelon crops, compounding the challenges faced by farmers in the area.
Year after year, farmers like Yıldırım have been compelled to reduce the variety of crops they cultivate due to the mounting difficulties. Last year, Yıldırım planted cotton, but the losses suffered from that endeavour prevented him from doing so again this year. The financial burden on farmers has grown exponentially, with costs for fields skyrocketing from 40-50,000 TL (around 1600 Euros) in previous years to 100-150,000 TL (around 3700 Euros) this year. Moreover, suppliers now demand advance payments, further straining the financial resources of farmers. These conditions have placed an overwhelming burden on farmers’ shoulders.
The Turkish government’s policies have come under scrutiny for hindering agricultural production. Yıldırım bemoaned the fact that an increasing number of farmers are being pushed away from their vocation, with only a handful remaining. The future of farming appears bleak, and the younger generation is discouraged from pursuing agriculture. The production of pistachios, a vital source of income in Şanlıurfa, has also suffered due to climate change.
Despite the immense challenges they face, farmers like Yıldırım and Mustafa Durmaz refuse to abandon their lands. They emphasise the need for unity among farmers and the establishment of cooperatives as a means of resistance and a potential alternative to the government’s policies. Mustafa Durmaz stressed that even covering expenses would be considered a significant achievement, as the current circumstances make it nearly impossible.
Another farmer, Tahsin Durmaz, shed light on the absence of agricultural policies aimed at resolving the hardships faced by farmers. He highlighted the interconnection between agricultural and political policies, asserting that a detrimental agricultural policy is being enforced to make people reliant on the government and to drive away those who resist. Tahsin Durmaz emphasised the need for justice and alternative solutions, underscoring the link between political and agricultural policies.