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Climate Change, Invasive Species Threaten Turkey’s Agriculture

The latest numbers from the Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜİK) showed that the country’s citrus production increased, while there was a steep decline in olive, hazelnut, pistachio and cotton production.

Last year, the country’s olive production plunged 49 percent, while the declines in pistachio and hazelnut were 26.4 percent and 15 percent, respectively.

One of the main reasons for the drop in production is climate change, according to experts.

Drought, frost and invasive species all impacted the yield of crops, they said, calling for urgent actions before the situation worsens.

“Climate change is one reason. Temperatures in winter months are some 5 to 6 degrees Celsius above the averages but we also face risks from frost from March to mid-April,” said Atakan Akça from the Trabzon Chamber of Agriculture, explaining why hazelnut production is declining.

“But one of the main reasons for the drop in the yield is the increase in the population of brown skunk, an invasive species,” he added.

“We need an action plan now. Otherwise, the Eastern Black Sea region will face serious problems.” Akça said.

Last year, the hazelnut production was 650,000 tons.

Apart from climate-related problems, there are other factors that impact yield, according to Ali Yılmaz Diker from the Chamber of Agriculture in the province of Edremit, one of Türkiye’s important olive production centers.

Due to higher costs, growers cannot afford pesticides and fertilizers, which are required for sustainable agriculture, Diker said.

“Rainfalls arrived late which caused lower yield and lower quality. Olive cultivation needs a cooling period. But the winter has been mild so far. If this continues, we will have problems next year,” he said, noting that there are 11 million olive trees in Edremit Bay.

“The frost last year hit production,” complained Ahmet Eyyüboğlu, the president of the Chamber of Agriculture in the southeastern province of Şanlıurfa.

The pistachio yield also suffered from drought in the past couple of years, according to Eyyüboğlu.

“Each year is more drought than the previous one. This has been going on for the last five years. We are seeing the impact of this drought now.”

The farmer population is old now as young people leave for other cities to find a job, he also said.

“The average age among farmers is between 55 to 60. They can only work for 10 more years. When they become even older, who will work in the fields?” he asked.

Source: https://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/climate-change-invasive-species-threaten-turkiyes-agriculture-189457

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