Food safety has become a matter of national security for the country, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Thursday. He stressed the danger of foreign dependency in basic agricultural products, with emphasis on the strong support the country will be providing for the agricultural and livestock industries.
"Ensuring the food safety of our people has become a matter of national security for Turkey as it has for every other country," Erdoğan said in his address at the 3rd Turkey Agriculture and Forestry Council in the capital Ankara, underscoring that developed countries already invest extraordinary effort to ensure their food safety and future.
"Foreign dependency in basic agricultural products is just as dangerous as foreign dependency in the defense industry. It is a risk that can by no means be taken for a country like us, which is located at the intersection of continents and struggles of interest," Erdoğan noted. "We have built our agriculture policies upon these very facts. We have never and will never allow any step that would pose a security risk to our country."
Turkey exports agricultural products to 195 countries worldwide. It managed to increase its agricultural production exports to $17.7 billion in 2018, according to the Agriculture and Forestry Ministry. Turkey is the top producer and exporter of hazelnuts, cherries, figs and apricots in the world. An average of 500,000 to 750,000 tons of hazelnuts is produced annually. Between September 2018 and May 2019, Turkey exported $1.4 billion worth of hazelnuts and hazelnut products. Having produced 306,000 tons of figs last year, Turkey generated $286 million in foreign currency inflow from the export of this product as both dried and fresh varieties.
Turkey, which achieved 627,000 tons in cherry production and $162 million in exports, stood at around 750,000 to 985,000 tons in apricot production. The country also generated $294 million in revenue from apricot exports.
Meanwhile, Turkey ranks second in poppy seed, melon and watermelon production, third in lentil, pistachio, chestnut and cucumber production, and fourth in walnut, olive, apple, tomato, eggplant, spinach and pepper production.