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
- 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
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
- 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
- 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.