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Country Briefs

  Turkey

Reference Date: 17-December-2020

FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT

  1. Dry weather conditions in central and eastern parts hamper development of 2021 cereal crops

  2. Slightly above‑average cereal harvest estimated in 2020

  3. Cereal imports forecast to decrease in 2020/21, while exports expected to increase

  4. Inflation increasing as Turkish Lira depreciates

Dry weather conditions in central and eastern parts hamper development of 2021 cereal crops

Most of the 2021 winter wheat and barley crops were sown in October and November. Abundant rainfall amounts in the first decade of November replenished soil moisture in the southern and southeastern parts of the country to relatively satisfactory levels with only localized pockets of dry conditions. In contrast, very dry weather conditions persist in central and eastern parts of the country, raising concerns about establishment and development of winter grains as well as replenishment of reservoirs for irrigation. The most affected area remains the Anatolian Plateau, where cumulative rainfall amounts between September and early December did not exceed 50 percent of the average. However, if precipitation in December 2020 and January 2021 are abundant, crop prospects could still improve.

Currency depreciation from TRY 4.6 per US dollar in 2018 to TRY 7.8 in December 2020 increased input costs. In particular, the prices of compound fertilizers more than doubled in the past two years. Intervention prices by the Turkish Grain Board are usually announced in May for the upcoming harvest. In the 2020 campaign, intervention prices were TRY 1 650 (up from TRY 1 350 in 2019) per tonne of common wheat and TRY 1 800 (up from TRY 1 450) per tonne of durum wheat. In October 2020, the Board was offering to sell domestic and imported milling wheat stocks at TRY 1 850 per tonne to stabilize the domestic wheat market.

The second production forecast by the Turkish Statistical Institute, issued in October 2020, estimated the 2020 cereal output at 36.6 million tonnes, about 7 percent more than the average of the previous five years, including 20.5 million tonnes of wheat, 8.3 million tonnes of barley and 6 million tonnes of maize. The increase in wheat output is due to a slight increase in area (3 percent compared to the previous year) and improved weather conditions.

The country introduced several rounds of restrictions to contain the spread of the COVID‑19 pandemic. Agriculture has been exempted from curfew obligations and movement restrictions to ensure the continuation of activities taking into account the crop calendar of each province. However, farmers, particularly those producing fruits and vegetables, complained about the fluctuating prices due to lockdowns and market closures. Among other measures, the Government responded by creating an online marketplace for farmers and agri‑business producers to connect with buyers to support and supplement the traditional food value chain.

Cereal imports forecast to decrease in 2020/21, while exports expected to increase

In the 2020/21 marketing year (July/June), aggregate cereal imports, mainly wheat grain for processing, are forecast at 11.5 million tonnes, about 30 percent below the level of the previous year, but 12 percent above the average. The Russian Federation is historically the leading supplier of wheat.

Cereal exports, mainly wheat flour and wheat products, are forecast at 6.1 million tonnes, about 20 percent above the level of the previous year and 12 percent above the average. The increase in exports is supported by currency depreciation. The country remains one of the world’s leading exporter of wheat flour, using an inward processing regime policy that allows duty free imports for wheat grains to manufacture processed food products for exports. Iraq, the Sudan and the Syrian Arab Republic account for over 60 percent of the country’s total exports of wheat products.

Inflation increases as currency depreciates

The latest figures by the Turkish Statistical Institute indicate an annual food inflation rate of 21 percent in November 2020, below the record levels of over 30 percent in early 2019, but the highest rate registered since the early 2019s. The overall inflation index in June 2020 stood at 14 percent, up from 11 percent in the second quarter of 2020. The increase was supported by the currency depreciation, which is mainly attributed to political uncertainty and declining foreign exchange reserves.

Stable number of Syrian Arab Republic refugees in country

The number of Syrian Arab Republic refugees in the country started increasing towards the end of 2013 and grew steadily until early 2016. As of November 2020, about 3.6 million Syrian refugees were registered in the country, stable since early 2018. However, a large number of Syrian refugees is probably not officially registered. More than 90 percent of the refugees live in urban and peri‑urban areas, outside the camps. About 70 percent of refugees are children and women. Syrians registered in the country have access to national services and can apply for working permits. However, due to difficulties obtaining formal employment, many work in informal sectors which were particularly affected by the measures introduced to limit the spread of COVID‑19.

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