Agriculture association voices concern over Turkish gov’t’s plan to privatize sugar factories

Agriculture association voices concern over Turkish gov’t’s plan to privatize sugar factories

ANKARA
Agriculture association voices concern over Turkish gov’t’s plan to privatize sugar factories

The head of a leading Turkish agriculture association has voiced concerns about the government’s plan to privatize sugar factories, noting that sugar is a strategically crucial product. 

Union of Turkish Chambers of Agriculture (TZOB) head Şemsi Bayraktar said the privatization move would badly hit sugar beet producers.

“Sugar is a strategically important product so the plan to privatize 14 state-run sugar factories should be considered thoroughly,” Bayraktar said in a press conference in Ankara on March 1, adding that these factories buy sugar beet from farmers in 1,575 villages and towns across Turkey.

“Some 47,758 farmers sell sugar beet to these factories. Their total production area exceeds 1.25 million decares. These are big figures. We share the same stance as labor unions in this issue as we are concerned about our agricultural producers, just as they are concerned about their workers in these factories,” he added.

While around 2 million tons of sugar is produced annually in Turkey, nearly 2.1 million tons of sugar is consumed, Bayraktar said, adding that this demand should be met by local sources in an effort to maintain independence from foreign sources in this key product.

The government’s privatization move has drawn criticism, with the Sugar-Work Union appealing to the Council of State for a stay of execution of the planned bids by the Privatization Board of Turkey (OİB) and filing a criminal complaint against the OİB authorities for “malpractice.”

Bayraktar stated that the TZOB had requested an appointment with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım to discuss this issue and raise their concerns.

Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu on Feb. 27 slammed the bid to privatize sugar plants, saying the move aims to promote starch-based sugar production and would “affect nearly a million citizens.”

Union of Turkish Chambers of Agriculture, Şemsi Bayraktar, sugar, sugar factory, sugar factories, Turkey, economy, agriculture, starch-based sugar, starch