In Turkey, Study Recommends Investments in Olive Farms Instead of Coal Mines

Expanding the olive oil sector of Turkey's olive-growing capital is a cost-effective and climate-friendly solution that would boost the local economy, a report suggests.

Mining in Turkey
Jun. 2, 2022
By Costas Vasilopoulos
Mining in Turkey

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In the wake of the recent reg­u­la­tion in Turkey open­ing olive groves to coal min­ing activ­i­ties, a new report focused on the country’s Milas dis­trict found that the expan­sion of the olive oil sec­tor rep­re­sents a bet­ter alter­na­tive to min­ing for the local econ­omy.

The report, released by the Climate Action Network Europe (CAN Europe), 350 Turkey and the Milas city coun­cil, also claims that an olive-based devel­op­ment of Milas requires only a frac­tion of the finan­cial resources absorbed for the oper­a­tion of the energy-pro­duc­ing facil­i­ties of the area.

If we want a local econ­omy that will honor the cul­ture of Milas; that will acti­vate the gas­tro-tourism poten­tial of the region; that will pro­tect the nat­ural ecosys­tems, we should pro­tect the (olive) tree at all costs.- Efe Baysal, envi­ron­men­tal cam­paigner, 350.org

Unfortunately, for the last 40 years, Milas has been poi­soned by the two coal power plants, and the coal min­ing activ­i­ties have destroyed its liveli­hoods,” Efe Baysal, a cam­paigner at 350.org, an inter­na­tional envi­ron­men­tal orga­ni­za­tion, told Olive Oil Times.

The report shows it is pos­si­ble to develop the local econ­omy with­out rely­ing on pol­luters and sig­ni­fies invest­ing in olive pro­duc­tion can be accel­er­ated by the state sub­si­dies granted to the two coal power plants in Milas over the course of just one year,” he added.

See Also:Best Olive Oils From Turkey

The report stated that the expan­sion of Milas’ olive oil sec­tor would also go hand-in-hand with Turkey’s cli­mate tar­gets.

This study shows that a 2053 net-zero com­pat­i­ble regional trans­for­ma­tion for Milas is pos­si­ble and real­is­tic by reveal­ing the poten­tial of the olive sec­tor alone in Milas,” Özlem Katısöz, the coor­di­na­tor of cli­mate and energy poli­cies for Turkey at CAN Europe, told Olive Oil Times.

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The region of Milas, sit­u­ated in the south­west­ern province of Muğla, has long been known for its pro­duc­tion of olives and Milas olive oil is cur­rently the only one in Turkey with Protected Designation of Origin sta­tus from the European Union.

According to the report, 20,000 tons of olives out of the 100,000 tons Milas yields each year are left unprocessed due to inad­e­quate olive oil-pro­duc­ing infra­struc­ture. As a result, they are exported from the region with­out con­tribut­ing to the local econ­omy.

Instead of export­ing the olives, the report sug­gested, build­ing new facil­i­ties to pro­duce more olive oil and man­u­fac­ture table olives would ben­e­fit the region by cre­at­ing 685 new job posi­tions and boost­ing the income of local pro­duc­ers.

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Izmir, Turkey

If the nec­es­sary pro­mo­tion and cer­ti­fi­ca­tion processes are imple­mented, the value of olive oil may increase from €400,000 to €5.7 mil­lion at 2021 prices,” Baysal said.

However, the area also pos­sesses a rich lig­nite reserve. By intro­duc­ing the new min­ing reg­u­la­tion, the Turkish gov­ern­ment plans to strengthen the country’s energy secu­rity amid high global energy prices and tur­bu­lent sup­ply.

The reg­u­la­tion allows olive trees to be removed to facil­i­tate min­ing oper­a­tions where nec­es­sary. However, it also stip­u­lates that uprooted olive trees must be replanted else­where in the coun­try.

The first 30 olive trees were uprooted in Milas in late March to clear the way for coal amid out­rage from the locals.

However, a rul­ing by the Turkish Council of State, the high­est-rank­ing admin­is­tra­tive court of the coun­try, has tem­porar­ily halted all min­ing oper­a­tions pur­suant to the new reg­u­la­tion over con­cerns of vio­lat­ing the country’s leg­is­la­tion per­tain­ing to olive grow­ing.

If we want to build a future for Milas, olive groves must not be destroyed for the sake of the coal mine,” said Katısöz.

350.org has also released a 15-minute doc­u­men­tary telling the story of the Milas olive sec­tor and the con­tro­versy sparked by the new reg­u­la­tion.

For 4,000 years, the peo­ple of Milas have been cul­ti­vat­ing the olive,” Baysal said. Today, Milas is accepted as the cap­i­tal of olives and olive oil in Turkey. Even fur­ther, as our report indi­cates, the olive tree has a great poten­tial to strengthen the local econ­omy of Milas.”

These all show the olive tree is the past, the present, and the future of Milas,” he con­cluded. If we want a local econ­omy that will honor the cul­ture of Milas; that will acti­vate the gas­tro-tourism poten­tial of the region; that will pro­tect the nat­ural ecosys­tems, we should pro­tect the eter­nal tree at all costs.”



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