Turkey is facing an unprecedented agricultural crisis following extreme weather conditions.
The Middle Eastern country — which is the second-largest producer of table olives and fourth-largest of olive oil — has experienced a range of extreme weather conditions in the last year that will undoubtedly effect its harvest. Erratic patterns of drought, frost and heavy rain have been hard on olive trees around the country.
According to Şemsi Bayraktar, president of the Turkish Union of Agricultural Chambers, the widely varying conditions are “unprecedented.” He is calling on the government to take action in the form of restructuring electricity bills and social security payments of agricultural workers, who are set to bear the brunt of the financial burden caused by a lousy harvest.
Ziraat Bankası, the state-owned agricultural bank, has offered programs to defer worker debts, but Bayraktar says these efforts have not helped enough.
According to Marmara Union of Olive Sales Cooperatives, the weather woes have caused a 75 percent decrease in crop yield compared to last year in the country’s worst-effected areas.
In an interview with Bloomberg, union chairman İbrahim Minareci explained that the weather fluctuations have caused an imbalanced market for olives, forcing many producers to sell their unpackaged, unprocessed olives to other olive-producing countries, resulting in a far less favorable economic return.
Turkey currently has a 16.7 percent global share of olive oil production holding the number four spot, but the government has ramped up economic incentives in hopes of boosting the country to number two status. Assistance has come in the form of subsidies and tax breaks to help cover the expenses of the first few years of the cultivation of new olive trees, when the trees do not bear fruit.
Extreme weather conditions are projected to impact olive harvests and olive oil prices worldwide this year.