Seed exports trade gap exists

Seed exports trade gap exists

ANKARA - Anatolia News Agency
Seed exports trade gap exists

Turkey’s seed production reached 637,000 tons last year from 440,000 tons a year earlier. Experts believe the growth trend in production and exports will continue. AA photo

Turkey’s seed exports will rise 11 percent this year to $120 million in volume, according to head of the Turkish Seed Association (Türktob), but industry figures still suggest there will be a trade gap of more than $50 million.

The number of seed producers has increased as government support in the business continues amid a significant growth in research and development activities, Türktob head Hakkı Şafak Ses recently told Anatolia news agency.

The country’s seed production reached 637,000 tons last year from 440,000 a year earlier, he said. “The figures of the past three years show that the seed industry is in a growth trend in terms of both production and exports, and we think that this will continue this year.”

The Association of Chambers of Agriculture (TZOB), however, has calculated the seed imports volume at around $174 million, pointing at a large trade gap in the sector.

In the early 2000s, domestic seed production stood at 140,000 tons, with a mere 8,000 tons of exports. In 2011, exports exceeded 30,000 tons, according to Ses, but TZOB has said the volume of last year’s seed imports was 45,000 tons with a sharp upward trend.

Ses said Turkey’s 2011 seed buyers included Germany, France, Russia, Spain, the Netherlands and Israel and total exports reached $109 million in the same year.

Seed imports totaling 36,700 tons, however, exceeded this export volume, but Ses said the figure was optimistic as imported seeds accounted for only 6 percent of the seeds Turkey produces. “Looking at these imports rates, one can say that the seed industry is one of the most domestic and most independent ones.”

Commenting on imports from Israel in particular, he said Turkey bought only 6,700 kilograms of Israeli seeds, which stood for a little more than 1 percent of the local production.

Organic agriculture
Meanwhile, Turkey is meeting its domestic demand in the organic agriculture business, according to Abdullah Kutlu, the general manager of the country’s agricultural loans center. Still, the sector needs to be widened further, he said, noting that his organization was promoting organic production.

Studies on organic production are also modernizing traditional farming, fostering producers’ consciousness about health issues, he said.

Ses said the number of officially registered seed types exceeded 1,700 last year, which was only 274 in 1980. New types of seeds will emerge thanks to developing new technologies, which may lead to some of the existing ones to disappear.

Many agricultural products are produced with domestic seeds, he noted.

“The ratio of domestic seed use is 95 percent in bread wheat, 98 percent in durum wheat, 99 percent in barley, 100 percent in rice plant, 100 percent in chickpea, 43 percent in cotton, 40 percent in tomato,” he said.