Historically, the agriculture sector has been Turkey’s largest employer and a major contributor to the country’s GDP, although its share of the economy has fallen consistently over several decades. In 1999, it accounted for 15% of GDP, while employing about half of the labour force. Although the sector has grown over time, the growth has been only about 1% faster than the country’s population, and much slower than that of the industrial and services sectors. Farmers have been slow to adopt modern techniques, and much of the potential land and water resources are inefficiently managed.
Turkey’s agricultural economy is among the top ten in the world, with half of the country consisting of agricultural land and nearly a quarter of the population employed in agriculture. Turkey is a major producer of wheat, sugar beets, milk, poultry, cotton, tomatoes, and other fruits and vegetables, and is the top producer in the world of apricots and hazelnuts. Turkey is the EU’s fourth-largest non-EU vegetable and seventh-largest fruit supplier. Turkey is a major wheat importer, mainly from Russia and Ukraine.
Compared to the Republic’s initial years, the livestock industry showed little improvement in productivity, and the later years of this decade saw stagnation. However, livestock products, including meat, milk, wool, and eggs, contributed to more than 1⁄3 of the value of agricultural output. The inefficiency and the waste are significant. Typically, 14% of food is lost during agricultural processing, 23% was trashed by consumers before eating and 5% as leftovers in recent years.
Turkish agriculture emits greenhouse gases. According to the World Bank, the sector should adapt more to climate change and make technical improvements. The agricultural CO2 emission has been as follows since 2015.
Year CO2 Emission in M Tons
Most agricultural emissions are the result of “Cropland fires.”Unfortunately, huge and widespread forest fires in Turkey in the last couple of years have played a major role in rising emissions. However recently there has been an overall decline in emission levels as the table above indicates.
The agriculture sector in Turkey, being one of the most self-sufficient countries, will continue to have an important economic impact on the country’s growth and GDP. Serious measures should be designed and taken to minimize agricultural emissions and improve sectorial efficiencies. One example is the government-sponsored “Biomass Energy Production projects,” an effort to reduce animal-sourced emissions.
This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard Turkey Country Manager Dr. Semih Ergur