Talks underway on farmers’ electricity bills

Talks underway on farmers’ electricity bills

Nuray Babacan-Ankara
Talks underway on farmers’ electricity bills

Talks are underway to find ways to help farmers pay their bills for the electricity they use for irrigation purposes to prevent a possible disruption to agricultural production.

Besides the electricity bills of farmers, authorities are working to address the issues such as subsiding agricultural inputs and rising prices.

The talks on the bills are currently focusing on the formula which would allow farmers to pay the bills after harvest.

A meeting with electricity distribution companies was held where the issue of billing farmers in six-month periods was raised. In return, companies demanded that if the billing period changes, then interest should be charged.

Authorities are also considering and discussing other options, such as reducing the electricity prices for the agriculture sector and providing more product support. However, progress has been made on work regarding billing farmers after the harvest, while other issues have been put on hold for the time being.

People from the non-governmental organizations, which represent farmers, held talks with officials from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and convened growers’ demands and complaints regarding the rising costs of inputs used in the agriculture industry.

Talks with energy companies were coordinated by the Energy and Natural Resources Ministry. The idea of farmers paying their bills in May and August and firms charging interest were floated in those meetings.

Changing the billing and payment methods would not require new legislation, but it could be done with a protocol to be signed between the related parties at the Energy Ministry, officials said.

Farmers also demanded a 50 percent reduction in the price of electricity they use. Electricity distribution companies, however, rejected this demand, AKP officials said, noting that not only the agriculture industry but also other sectors demand cheaper electricity and that granting such a cut in prices would reduce the government’s revenues.

Rising costs

Those talks, which are designed to provide some respite to farmers, are taking place at a time when they are facing higher costs.

The Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜİK) reported on May 17 that the producer price index for agricultural products, or agriculture-PPI, increased by 17.76 percent in April from the month before.

The annual increase in the agriculture-PPI accelerated from 84.1 percent in March to 118.5 percent in April.

The index for fish and other fishing products increased by 0.12 percent month on month for an annual rise of 75.7 percent.

The index for agricultural and hunting products and related services was up 18 percent and for forestry products and related services was up 21 percent on a monthly basis.