Socio-economic Differentiation of Turkish Agriculture

Much less discussed is the socio-economic differentiation within agriculture. Today -with differences in number and percentage between regions - it is reasonable to differentiate between the following types of rural households:

1. Households with enough land to support the owner-family

  • Landlords - especially those concentrated in southeast Turkey - often manage their land with shart tenants and landless labourers, often rather extensively. Land is more a source of power than a basis for production. Social relations are feudalistic, sometimes overlapping with the ethnological structures.
  • Progressive farmers are usually younger farmers who own or rent land and apply modern capitalistic methods of management, thus using the potential of modern technology.
  • Economic holdings are family farms with sufficient land to allow a decent living and the application of modern technology. Many of them discovered niches for specialization and achieve a good income.

2. Households without sufficient land to support the owner-family

  • Households with multiple employment have at least one family member earning a non-farm income. This member's job may be permanent or seasonal, local, in distant places or even abroad. Farm work is done by the other family members.
  • Households with household production have not been successful in finding a non-farm job or no suitable family member is available. They try to improve their living by producing within the household (weaving, charcoal) or by avoiding expenses through assuming maintenance and repair work.
  • Households of aged people consist only of old couples whose children have migrated. In the absence of other means of subsistence, they have to continue farming, often rather extensively as their strength diminishes and with much disinvestment.
  • Marginal existences are those of the people who have not been able to find additional income or because of personal or locational circumstances. The land is cultivated without investment, and yields are low. Many of these people live in great poverty.

These different types of households have a different resource endowment, different goals regarding the cultivation of their land and a different interest in agriculture. Accordingly, different policies are suitable to promote their situation. Therefore, an agrarian reform, again, has a different meaning to them:

  • In the case of landlords, a certain redistribution of land ownership would increase equity and improve the tenants' living especially if supporting measures to improve land management are applied. However, not all the land in the relevant areas is suitable for small-scale farming units because of the limited productivity. It is no use to create small farms which will soon be given up because they do not yield a sufficient income.
  • For progressive farmers and economic holdings, land ownership reform is of limited interest, while improvements in land management would help them much. A mix of price and innovation policy together with the promotion of supporting institutions and field consolidation would satisfy their needs. Improvement of marketing plays an important role.
  • For all those households without sufficient land, the situation is quite different. Today, their goal is not so much equal access to land - which could be arranged by land reform - as access to equal income opportunities, in or outside agriculture. Undoubtedly, some young men are interested in agriculture and could be helped in obtaining an economic holding if farms were enlarged in the course of land redistribution. In view of the income desired, the land given to them should be of a sufficient amount. For more and more people, farming is of limited interest, especially as they experience that often only larger farms guarantee an income comparable to that earned in other sectors.
  • Most of the households with multiple employment will step out of farming with the change of generations or continue managing only a small part-time farm. Agrarian reforms and measures of agricultural policy hardly meet their interest, while policies for training in non-agricultural jobs, employment creation and regional development are measures to their benefit. The same applies to households with household production and marginal existences whose land and other assets are too small to allow modern farming. Their future lies outside agriculture. Policies safeguarding a smooth transfer of land to those households which are still interested in farming are necessary.
  • Households with aged people cannot be furthered either by agrarian reform or agricultural policy measures because those people are not even interested. A policy guaranteeing social security would be of great help during their old age.