Regional Differences in Turkish Agriculture

Especially in more recent times, a number of changes had a severe impact on Turkish agriculture:

  • Since the mid 50s, mechanical-technical progress has been introduced. More than 600,000 tractors replaced animal power and caused an extension of cropped areas and yields.
  • Since the 60s, biological-technical progress in the form of new varieties - mainly of wheat - together with the complementary inputs have led to an increase in yields per

While from an economic point of view these developments in Turkish agriculture were a great success, on the social side, this same agricultural development was a failure. As usual, agricultural development before an agrarian reform caused disadvantageous side-effects:

  • Regardless of the fact that the new inputs are divisible, differences in power, interest and access caused differences in utilization.
  • The wish to use tractors to capacity led to the dismissal of tenants. Smallholders had to rent their land to tractor-owners because otherwise they had no access to draught power.
  • Differences in the natural conditions, market access, irrigation and agrarian structure caused an increasing differentiation between regions and different rates of outmigration as the next step.

As a result of all the changes over the last SO years, the traditional regional differences in Turkey have become more marked. Today, even within short distances, sometimes within the same village, we find next to each other:

  • traditional subsistence farming, more or less by-passed by technological developments, where mostly elderly people earn a meagre income;
  • intensive smallholder production for subsistence as well as marketing with high productivity and good income;
  • traditional landlords and tribal chiefs, partly working with dependent tenants, often below the potential of their land;
  • areas with concentration of production in larger units, while smallholders give up farming;
  • areas with outmigration of the young generation and increasingly extensive cultivation by the elderly;
  • large new irrigation schemes with a high potential for agricultural production
  • villages abandoned, at least in terms of cultivation, because of poor soil conditions and remote location.

The diverse conditions listed above - the list could be extended - require very different measures to overcome the bottlenecks in the respective situation. Therefore, agrarian reform has a different meaning to them:

  • Traditional subsistence farms could partly be helped by enlarging their holdings and providing supporting services such as marketing, credit and extension. A precondition is, however, that the cultivator or his son is still interested in continuing farming.
  • Intensively cultivating smallholders are best helped by reliable credit and marketing facilities, a good infrastructure, and their association in cooperatives or similar institutions. They need advice in farm management and depend very much on a reliable agricultural policy.
  • Landlordism should be abolished for equity reasons and in order to put an end to dependence. The priority of such measures depends on the political feasibility and the degree of interference with ethnic traditions. One important aspect is the possibility to cultivate the areas concerned by means of smallholder agriculture or other structures which do not always exist.
  • Enlargement of cultivating units is an unavoidable process along with technological change. It has to be accompanied by measures guaranteeing livelihood to former smallholders and tenants who give up farming.
  • Areas with poor soil, climate and infrastructure will experience an increasing outmigration of the young generation. Assisting in this transition by offering training facilities and taking measures to preserve the natural landscape are necessary and the more so in the latter case when villages have already been abandoned.