The small farmers of Turkey say NO (#HAYIR) to the Referendum which intends to change the constitutional system and they invite all farmers –for their own future– to say NO!
The Confederation of Small Farmers’ Unions (ÇİFTÇİ-SEN), a member organisation of ECVC from Turkey, has published its opinion regarding the Referendum planned for 16 April 2017, which intends to change the constitutional system. The small farmers of Turkey will say NO (#HAYIR) in this referendum and they invite all farmers –for their own future– to say NO. Why are Farmers Saying NO? The 16 April Referendum is very important for farmers. Even if it is not like a general election that parties rally, it will determine whether we continue losing our rights or not. The ones who have proposed the referendum have been in power since 2002. It has been a one-party government. They had all the power to improve the situation of farmers. But they didn’t! They are still in power. They have all the means to propose policies in favor of farmers. But the policies they propose are in favor of corporations, not farmers. The price of oil, fertilizers, pesticides and seeds have increased dramatically. We produce, but the sales do not even meet the production costs. We want to continue to produce but we cannot as we have been pushed further in debt. We have to remind that it is THIS government –the same that brought destructive policies upon small farmers– that is currently asking for a referendum. Wheat – The production space was 9 million 300 thousand hectares in 2002. In 2016, it is 7 million 780 thousand hectares. Thus, on 1.5 million hectares of land, farmers can no longer produce any wheat. We are now importing wheat. Barley – Because of wrong price policies, between 2002 and 2016, there is no production of barley on 1 million hectares of land anymore. We have become fodder importer. Pulse – The amount of production of chickpeas and red lentils decreased one-third, and green lentils two-third. We’ve become importers. Sugar beet – In 2002, more than 492 thousand families were producing sugar beet. In 2016, the number is only 106 thousand families. The amount of land decreased from 3.724.680 hectares in 2002 to 2.752.721 hectares in 2015. Cotton – The amount of land used in 2002 was 7.210.770 and it decreased to 4.800.000 in 2016. Viticulture – In 2014, 1 kg of dried grape was 4-4,5 TL; in 2015 it was 5,50 TL per kg and in 2016 it decreased to 3 TL/kg. Today, in 2017, traders buy the previous year’s dried grape for 3,25 TL/kg. The price of dried grape has not been stabilized in these years and this instability caused producers to earn less than their production costs. In addition to this unstable financial situation, the political crisis with neighborhood countries worsens the situation and fresh and dried grape export has become impossible. Hazel nut – The government cuts its ties with the farmers.. The production efficiency has decreased. It was 113kg/decare in 2002, and decreased to 66kg/decare in 2016. Tea – Tea producers are abandoned to the mercy of markets. ÇAYKUR (state-owned enterprise, under the name of General Directorate of Tea Enterprises), which had also been giving technical support to producers, was handed over to Turkey Wealth Fund (2017). Its capacity to regulate markets has been disabled, so it now can sell to the private sector (corporations). The objective seems to have producers become dependent on corporations. Olive – The number of trees has increased from 113 million in 2005 to 171 million in 2016. In light of this, a law is being prepared that will destroy the trees in favor of corporate interest. This new law is currently being retained by the parliament, like a sword of Damocles. It will be brought out after the referendum. Tobacco – The number of producers decreased from 405 thousands in 2002 to 56 thousands. The amount of production decreased from 159 thousand tons to 62 thousand tons. Our tobacco production has almost come to an end with these policies. Orcharding – This year, pomegranates couldn’t be collected. In Denizli city, farmers uprooted apple trees as they don’t earn money from apples. Citriculture farmers are getting ready to throw their orange and tangerines on the road. Seed – The farmer is a farmer only with his/her own seed. The government has decided that, after 2018, it will only give financial support to farmers who have been farming with certificated corporate seeds. This is a policy in favor of the seed companies. This will lead to a situation where farmers and our agriculture depend on seed companies. Financial support and credits – Between 2004 and 2016, the amount of public aid given has been increased 3.7 times, though the amount of credits that are given by the banks, increased 13.5 times. The amount of agricultural loans on default increased 9 times. Because of all these policies in favor of agribusiness and banks, we, the farmers are being forced to stop producing. Agricultural land – It decreased around 3 million between 2002-2016, from 26.579 hectares to 23.900 hectares. Meadows and forages – It decreased around 617 thousand hectares between 2002 and 2016. With the new “metropolis law”, the meadows, forages and agricultural land of the village commons have been sold. This law also limits the farmer’s right to produce. Husbandry – The number of animals was 83 million when the population was 45 million. It was 2 animals per person. Today, the population is almost 80 million and the number of animals is about 50 million. Thus, it is 1 animal for 2 persons. In short, we have become importers when we used to be exporters. The price of dairy milk has not increased since 2014. The cost of fodder has increased each year. Ecological destruction has spread. Wind power plants, geothermal plants, hydro-electrical power plants, coal power plants, nuclear power plants and mining research have been expanding at an alarming rate. This results in low quality agricultural production, an increase in the costs, climate change, and prevents us from producing more, and pushes us out from farming. National Agriculture Project – The bankruptcy of agriculture was carried out with the complicity of the President, the Prime Minister and the Minister of Agriculture, in a big meeting in 2016. Because of the wrong policies, the agriculture sector has been reduced at an amount of 5.6 % in the first and second phase and 7. % in the third phase. The proof of the bankruptcy is shown in numbers. NO to agribusiness! NO to the expropriation of our rights, lands, waters, seeds! In order to continue farming, and receive a decent income from what we produce; Stop the forced sale of our land because of credit debts; In order to take our future in our hands Let’s say NO in the Referendum. Confederation of Small Farmers’ Unions (ÇİFTÇİ-SEN)
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