Dark hands behind skyrocketing potato prices, Turkey’s Agriculture Minister says
Food, Agriculture and Livestock Minister Ahmet Eşref Fakıbaba is seen in this file photo while inspecting potato seeds during a farming event in the Central Anatolian province of Niğde on March 23, 2018. Photo: Doğan News Agency
Turkey’s Food, Agriculture and Livestock Minister Ahmet Eşref Fakıbaba said on June 22 that there are “dark hands” behind the dramatic rise in basic food products, including potato.
“Only two months ago producers had complained us about the potato price, which was 50 Turkish kuruş (cents) per kilogram then. I am surprised that the price is now 6 Turkish Liras. There are dark hands behind this rise and, God willing, we will destroy those hands,” Fakıbaba told during a visit to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) headquarters in the southeastern city of Şanlıurfa.
“We have taken our precautions. You will see that the prices will come down again in potato, onion, chickpea and other products,” he added.
The government had announced on June 22 that it would allow potato and onion imports in certain amounts and from certain countries in an effort to curb prices.
The dramatic rise in prices have stirred public debate on social media and drawn criticism from opposition parties.
In Istanbul, the cost of one kilogram of onion rose 212 percent to 6.5 Turkish Liras ($1.4) over the past month. One kilo of onion was sold for around 1.3 liras last June. Potato prices also rose to 6 liras ($1.3) in June, a 94 percent month-on-month increase. One kilo of potato was around 1.5 liras last June.
There have also been sharp increases in almost all milk products, with butter seeing the highest hike.
The price rises come amid persistently high consumer inflation and a plunging value of the Turkish Lira, with social media jokers noting that “the onion exchange rate is now even higher than the dollar exchange rate.”
Muharrem İnce, the presidential candidate of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), voiced criticism on June 21.
“For the first time, one kilo of onion costs more than one dollar in Turkey. There is a big problem in the economy if this is happening,” İnce said ahead of a meeting with the board members of the country’s top business organization, the Turkish Industry and Business Association (TÜSİAD), in Istanbul.
He added that the Turkish economy was fragile, saying the maintenance of the rule of law and democratic principles are a prerequisite to solving economic troubles.