Southern Turkey: Citrus workers struggling

Citrus fruits are true staples in Turkey during the winter season, but retail prices for certain fruits have remained unchanged for years, which has resulted in smaller profit margins for farmers and lower workers’ wages.

Hatay is one of the leading citrus producers in Turkey due to its warm climate, meeting nearly a quarter of Turkey’s citrus needs. Increased overhead costs are some of the biggest challenges. A sack of fertiliser that was 50 Turkish lira a year ago (€8.20) is now 110 lira (€18.04). Many farmers and workers in the business are struggling.

One of the reasons is that increased production costs have not been passed on to the consumer. Prices in the markets have remained relatively unchanged in the past 10 years.

One of the most significant increases has been the cost of diesel. Apart from that, prices for water and electricity have gone up as well and the same goes for herbicides.

Workers’ salaries have stagnated as well in the region: the pay for a 12 to 13-hour day for a labourer is around 50 lira, not nearly enough to cover their needs at a time when 1 kg of tomatoes costs 6 lira. quoted a grower who said: “The government doesn't have a proper agricultural policy. The way in which they are depleting agriculture with their inadequate policy is that same way they are destroying animal husbandry with the same policy. Producers are unable to pay their expenses. Then, we import meat, and we import fruits and vegetables.”

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