Blaming the brokers for the increase in fruit and vegetable prices, the government introduces a new Law on Wholesale Fruit and Vegetable Markets to the assembly. Stating that the cause of the problem is not merely themselves, the brokers underline the infrastructure issue. The opposition believes that the draft law that would be introduced without reducing the cost increases in production inputs is nothing but playing to the gallery ahead of incoming elections.

Cengiz Aldemir

Under the Anti-inflation Program the government plans to propose the second new Law on Wholesale Fruit and Vegetable Markets to the GNAT. The “Law on the Regulation of the Trade of Fruits, Vegetables and Other Goods which have Sufficient Supply and Demand Depth”, widely known as the “Law on Wholesale Fruit and Vegetable Markets,” which has been demanded by producers and consumers for years, came into effect in 2010. With the law that was introduced with high hopes, each product would have an identity. Fruit and vegetable products would be recorded and their prices would be at least 25% cheaper; there would be “Trust in trade from the field to the dining table” Producers, merchants, industrialists, consumers and the state would win through the new amendments to the law. Although eight years have passed, none of these happened.

‘NO NEED FOR A NEW LAW’

AK Party deputies feel hopeful about the proposed law. But as far as the opposition parties are concerned, the rulers of the country are mistaken thinking that “if the law is amended fresh fruit and vegetable prices would get cheaper.” In order to prevent fruit and vegetable prices being cheap for the producer but expensive for the consumer, the opposition draws attention to measures such as “cutting the costs beginning from production, identification of the actual producer, granting subsidies to the producer not to the landowners, reducing losses and leakages and inhibiting markets’ ambition for high profits.” And for this there is even no need for a new law, argues the opposition.

‘THE NEW LAW ON WHOLESALE FRUIT AND VEGETABLE MARKETS WILL SUCCEED’

Ekrem Çelebi

Some AK Party deputies state that they would assess the draft law after its submission to the committee. Arguing that the new law which would be the exact opposite of the Law enacted in 2010 will succeed, in a statement to Halagazeteciyiz.net, AK Party Ağrı Deputy Ekrem Celebi said, “Why would we consume the tomato which is worth1 kr in the field for 5 TL? With the proposed law the aim is to remove the brokers. The 2010 law fell short of the goals. The new law will succeed and our people will eat cheap fruit and vegetables.” When asked “How will you reduce the input costs in production in order to lower the prices?” Çelebi responded: “There has been a recent increase based on the dollar. This situation is temporary and almost over. With the forthcoming law, cost increases will also be averted.”

BROKERS: INFRASTRUCTURE NEEDS TO BE PREPARED

Taking action before the incoming elections, the government seeks a solution in the assembly in order to reduce the prices and blames the brokers for the increase in prices. But the brokers think that they have been wronged. Nevzat Akcan, the President of Antalya Wholesale Market Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Brokers Association, said “From social security premiums to sacrificial animals, from household costs to gasoline, anything you want to name, the producers supply them from our broker colleagues.” Reminding that thousands of people earn their livings in this sector, Aktan added that it is wrong to modify the aforesaid law and remove the brokers without any infrastructure preparation. Akcan, arguing that agricultural production will ride for a fall in this way, just like it did in the meat sector, warned that “We would have to import vegetables in a couple of years, like we import meat.”

‘THE PROBLEM REMAINS UNSOLVED WITHOUT SUPPORTING FARMERS AND PRODUCTION’

İlhami Özcan Aygün

Listing the most commonly used inputs in plant production as “diesel oil, fertilizer, seed, agricultural pesticide, irrigation, energy and labor” CHP’s agriculturalist deputy Ilhami Ozcan Aygun pointed to the fact that seed prices increased over 100% in the last year. Tekirdag deputy Ilhami Ozcan Aygun, who is also a member of GNAT Agriculture Committee, said that this increase happened mostly in the last two months, farmers currently were unable to buy seed and worried that a new rise was on the way. In a country which leans on import instead of production, the production costs will always increase, said Aygun adding that 2017 subsidies meant for the producers were postponed to 2019 due to lack of resources. Speaking to Halagazeteciyiz.net Aygun stated, “It is not certain when the farmers will get support. Base fertilizer prices increased. The government made the farmers depend on brokers’ sense of fair play. The prices in the fertilizer sector, which is almost 100% dependent on outside sources, have increased based on the increase in foreign exchange. This price rise will reduce fertilizer consumption and therefore production will decrease. In the same period, even though the government did not reflect rises exactly by renouncing Special Consumption Tax (OTV), the price increase in diesel oil reached to 50%. When OTV is reflected it would even be more difficult for the farmer to buy diesel oil. The product cost of the farmer who produces by buying would also increase. That is not the case just for fertilizers. The same problems are valid for other inputs.” In brief, Aygun argued that the problem cannot be solved without supporting the farmer, promoting production and that there is no need for a new law.

‘HAND OVER TO AGRICULTURE AND SEED MONOPOLIES’

Nusrettin Maçin

Another committee member and HDP Şanlıurfa Deputy Nusrettin Maçin talking to Halagazeteciyiz.net, said the farmer has been handed over to seed monopolies. Reminding the seed law in 2006 Maçin said, “Regrettably, Turkey has been handed over to international agriculture and seed monopolies. Without reducing agricultural inputs no sector of the society could be pleased.” Maçin proposed, “Without reducing diesel oil, fertilizer, labor, water, electricity and all other inputs, it is not possible to talk about reducing the prices in Turkey. You make your plan according to decreased losses and leakages. And you can solve the problem of markets’ ambition for high profits with a regulation accordingly.” Saying that there would be no need for a Law on Wholesale Fruit and Vegetable Markets in case the government reduces input costs, Maçin added that HDP will meet peasants and farmers in December and conduct a joint study on what to do in this matter.

 ‘AK PARTY PLAYS TO THE GALLERY’

Member of GNAT Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Rural Affairs and IYI Party Edirne deputy Orhan Çakırlar also emphasized that this problem could not be solved without cutting production input costs. Reminding the initial law enacted by AK Party in 2010, Çakırlar said, “They turned this situation into a jigsaw puzzle. The main issue is to protect the farmer and the producer. But what is actually being done is nothing but AK Party’s playing to the gallery ahead of local elections.” Highlighting the fact that GNAT Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Rural Affairs has not met even once in the 27th term, Çakırlar added “Unfortunately, our committee could not meet once. This matter should have been discussed thoroughly in the committee first. It should have been a law introduced by common sense but regrettably AK Party has not surprised us. This is just ‘We can do what whatever we like’ mentality. This incident seems to have turned into the McKinsey matter already.”

OPPOSITION’S NEW WHOLESALE MARKETPLACE MODEL

Deputies, who said that neither the government nor Minister Albayrak suggested anything to contribute to the new Law on Wholesale Fruit and Vegetable Markets, proposed the following:

  • In order for the fruit and vegetable wholesale markets to work effectively, the privilege of buying the product directly from the producers, which is currently granted to market chains and touristic establishments, should be removed and the wholesale markets should again be made the primary market.

  • The definition of each occupational group in the sector, their duties and authorities should be clearly re-identified.

  • The wholesale markets should be structured as “Fruit and Vegetable Stock Markets”.

  • If a structure could be built where the producer sells his product in its worth and the products are analyzed in an internationally accredited laboratory, then healthy products from the producer can reach the consumer with an affordable price.

Translation: Selda Arıt