Is only the AKP innocent in agriculture?
How has Turkey, which was one of the few countries that was self-sufficient in agriculture, lost this feature and started importing everything, from sesame seeds to wheat?
It would be unjust to say everything started with the Justice and Development Party (AKP) rule, but denying that the AKP contributed to the interests of exporter countries and multinational companies would also be a lie.
Everything started with the harmonization programs that were imposed on Turkey by those countries and multinational agriculture and food monopolies that needed new markets for their production surplus in the 1980s.
Between 1977 and 1988, the trade rate of agriculture went down 45 percent. The rate of contribution of support buying to the added value of agriculture likewise fell. The power of dealers increased, as did the exploiting power of trade capital. Just like what is now happening with potatoes, the gap between what was paid to the grower and what we paid at the market widened. The gap between export prices and what the grower earned also grew wide open.
Because of the anti-labor policies of the 1980s and the 1990s, the inequality in land distribution grew. The capital supporting policies adopted after the Sept. 12, 1980, coup further oppressed the already poor farmer.
When these policies crashed in 1989, a couple of pro-agriculture arrangements were introduced but they were not sustainable. With the 1994 crisis, with the evil called the “April 5 decisions,” agriculture started to decline again. Input subsidies were restricted; support purchases and the production of various products were decreased.
To crown it all, then came the EU Common Agriculture Policy, introduced with the Customs Union, and GATT Uruguay Round. The EU-Turkey foreign trade equilibrium was disrupted against Turkey.
The IMF wanted commercial protection in support of agriculture and input subsidies to be lowered and the interest rates on loans to be increased. In parallel with the pledges to the IMF, support for agriculture was pulled down from 25 percent to 13 percent.
Both the IMF and the World Bank opened Turkey up to the pillage of international monopolies, creating a new market for the food stocks of the West.
In the following years, with the newly introduced tobacco and sugar laws, the interests of multinational companies were guaranteed. A quota was introduced for sugar beet production in 2001. Thus, our sugar importation from European countries was to increase while the industry was to totally depend on sugar produced from corn.
In 2002, the tobacco law was introduced, tobacco monopolies seized the market. With privatization policies, etc., here is what we have of globalization: Our agricultural production fell, importation increased. Turkey started losing its food security. Now, we are foreign-dependent in food; kudos.
The prime minister declared the other day that the AKP’s rule has done many things to protect the land and the labor associated with it for 12 years - and would you believe he used the term “revolutionary?”
Really, what else did the AKP do in its 13-year rule except for continuing these policies?
Didn’t they lower the support in many agricultural products? Didn’t production go down? Wasn’t the grower left alone while struggling with drought? Wasn’t the support for the farmer inadequate? Weren’t the product inputs constantly raised? Didn’t the gap between the grower price and the market price constantly grow? Wasn’t the farmer continuously oppressed in the process, from production to marketing? Have they made arrangements to organize the farmers and we have not seen them?
Now, put your hand on your heart and tell me it is true that all the governments since the 1980s are totally guilty and only the AKP is innocent.