Türkiye: Earthquake-affected farmers fear setback if timely support is not received
Amidst seasonal challenges, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) continues to provide assistance to farmers, while scaling up advocacy efforts to address evolving needs and amplify the impacts of interventions implemented over the past six months.
Sadik and his son caress their sheep in their destroyed barn.
The sun glares into Sadik Yildirim’s barn in Gaziantep, no longer stopped by the walls that once shielded his livestock from the heat, rain and snow. His sheep, traumatized by the earthquakes that rocked Türkiye six months ago, are slowly recovering, and his wheat is ready for harvest. But as the winter approaches and with no place to store his grains, he once again fears for his livelihood.
The earthquakes had a profound impact on livestock keepers like Sadik. It reduced barns to rubble and destroyed roads, paralysing the region and making the rescue of injured livestock a daunting challenge. Many livestock keepers, including Sadik, had to sell their injured sheep at a fraction of their actual value to avoid further suffering and loss.
Supply chains were also disrupted, leading to losses in the production of milk and eggs and distressing livestock, which experienced days of cold and snow without shelter. "Six months after the earthquake, our livestock are traumatized and scared. It took them a long time to resume milk production," said Mehmet Eroğlu, the Mukhtar of Karaoğul village in Gaziantep.
Sadik Yildirim and his son stand outside their barn, destroyed by the earthquakes. ©FAO/Turuhan Alkir
In response, FAO, in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, provided urgent support to 1 765 farmers in earthquake-affected areas, including essential inputs such as agricultural equipment, animal feed, fertilizers, seeds and seedlings. Moreover, FAO will deliver milking machines, milking and cooling tanks and other necessary items to an additional 278 farmers by September 2023.
While the initial support brought relief to Sadik and other farmers, evolving needs call for a more comprehensive approach. "Many of us farmers here also engage in agriculture. With the loss of our storage facilities, I fear we will not have a place to store our harvest,” he said. “As the winter approaches, temporary livestock shelters that withstood the summer sun may not endure during the harsh winter," he added, his voice coated with worry.
Sadik's maturing wheat awaiting harvest with no grain storage unit available so far. ©FAO/Turuhan Alkir
To support farmers as they enter this critical recovery phase, FAO, with the financial support of Norway and Sweden through the Special Fund for Emergency and Rehabilitation Activities and the Technical Cooperation Programme, aims to provide unconditional cash transfers to 6 000 farmers.
Furthermore, under its three‑year Earthquake Response and Recovery Plan (ERRP), FAO is working closely with the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and provincial directorates to provide mobile storage for grains. FAO is seeking an additional USD 3.6 million to support the dairy sector through the provision of animal feed and livestock shelters, input for milk production for small-scale producers, support for small-scale processing facilities, training on climate‑smart agriculture and assistance to dairy cooperatives.
"We are expanding our efforts to provide farmers and rural communities with timely assistance, helping them to restore their livelihoods,” said Viorel Gutu, FAO's Subregional Coordinator for Central Asia and FAO Representative for Türkiye and Uzbekistan. “We want Sadik and other farmers to get back on their feet."
As farmers in Türkiye work tirelessly to rebuild their lives and restore the agriculture sector, FAO, as a trusted partner of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and others, is committed to supporting agricultural production and restoring rural livelihood under its ERRP.