Grow With Me


Over the past decade, Turkey's agriculture sector has grown by leaps and bounds, and in some areas it has become a leading global exporter. Continuing this positive trend is the next challenge.

The agriculture sector has seen serious growth over the last 10 years. According to the World Bank, Turkey’s agriculture sector moved from the 11th largest to seventh globally and from fourth to first in Europe. The total value of the sector in fixed price terms was $61.8 billion in 2011, up from $23.7 billion in 2002. The average growth of the agriculture industry was 5.6% in 2011 compared to the EU average of 3%. The Ministry of Food, Agriculture, and Livestock states there are 6 million people working in the sector, equating to 25% of the working population. This is a drop on the 2002 figure of 35%; however, it has been looked upon positively—often, a decreasing workforce in the agriculture sector can be linked to the increasing development of a country. While this transformation has been occurring, Turkey has become an important exporter for the region. In 2012, agricultural exports reached $16 billion, a 4.8% rise on the year before and a 295% rise on the 2002 figure. Also, imports decreased by 7% in 2012 compared to 2011. The country has long enjoyed a foreign trade surplus in food products; in 2002, it was $1.76 billion, and this rose to $4.6 billion in 2012.


Turkey has a very extensive agriculture sector and is largely self-sufficient in all major food demands. When it comes to poultry, Turkey produced 1.4 billion eggs in May 2013, an increase of 0.8% on the month before and a 13.4% increase on the same month a year previous. This would equate to roughly 18 eggs per person per month at current production rates. In regard to chicken meat, the country processed 97 million chickens in May 2013, a 7% increase on the month before, and a 1.1% increase on the same period the previous year. These 97 million chickens came out to 161,503 tons of chicken meat. Over 2012, a little under 1.05 billion chickens were processed, which worked out to 1.72 million tons of meat. The number of chickens has steadily grown since 1995 when Turkey had 215 million chickens. The country also processed 367,000 turkeys in May 2013, a 16.9% increase on April 2013 and a 1.3% increase on May 2012.

Turkey also has a substantial cattle herd, which, like poultry production, has beenincreasing every year for two of the three main breeds of cow the country has. This increase in animal numbers has broken the 20-year decline in the livestock industry, which saw herd numbers halve over the period. In 2012, there were 13.9 million head in total, with 5.7 million crossbred, 2.4 million domestic, and 5.7 million culture cows. This number is an increase of 12.3% in year-on-year terms. While culture and crossbred numbers have steadily increased since the 1990s, domestic breeds have seen the opposite and dropped from a high of 6.7 million head in 1991 to 2.5 million in 2012. Even though cattle numbers are increasing, the amount of milk collected dropped slightly by 1.8% in May 2013 compared to May 2012, to 768,737 tons of milk. Of this, 109,865 tons was used for drinking, a decrease of 5.6%, 97,910 tons was used for yogurt, an increase of 3.7%, and 53,626 tons was used for making cheese, a rise of 6.6% over the year. Turkey also has a significant amount of sheep totaling 27.4 million head in 2012, a 10.7% increase on the year before. These sheep helped to produce just over 50,000 tons of wool, which was a 9.9% increase on 2011.

The Ministry of Food, Agriculture, and Livestock is looking to help continue this growth by introducing policies to create sustainable growth. The Ministry is looking to set up a Meat and Milk Market Intervention Board, which will focus on streamlining regulations and laws for the agriculture sector. The government also wishes to lend support to livestock farmers by investigating possible structural transformations in the ministries that may lead to the more stable development of livestock farming. The government also wants to help with the breeding of livestock to boost numbers and improve the quality of the meat on offer.


Turkey is also seeing an increase in most fields of crops. In 2012, the country produced in total 34.3 million tons of all types of cereal. Of this, 18.5 million tons was destined for human consumption, 2 million was used for seeds, and 10.5 million was used as animal feed. Turkey also exported 4.3 million tons, of which 53,741 tons went to the EU. Overall, the country is 99.9% self sufficient when it comes to cereals and domestic demand. There are expectations that cereals will increase by 9.1% over 2013. The majority of the cereal produced is wheat, accounting for 17.9 million tons in 2012, of which the vast majority is used for domestic consumption—14.9 million tons—and 3.2 million tons for export. Wheat production is expected to also increase in line with total cereal growth at 9.2% in 2013. Turkey produces a considerable amount of vegetables—25.3 million tons in 2012. It uses 20.8 million tons for human consumption and exports 1.7 million tons, of which 571,542 tons go to the EU. In 2013, vegetable production is expected to increase to 28.1 million tons, likely increasing the self-sufficiency rate of the country from its current 106.1%. The Ministry of Food, Agriculture, and Livestock is planning on a major upgrade for farms across the country, with a plan to irrigate 8.5 million hectares of land before 2023.


When it comes to nuts and dried fruit, Turkey’s are some of the best known worldwide. Staggering self-sufficiency rates in some dried-fruit categories, such as 993.4% for figs, demonstrate the export-oriented nature of the sector. In 2012, Turkey produced 676,138 tons of apricots, making it the leading country in the world when it comes to apricots, with 17% of total production. In 2012, Turkey exported 170,000 tons of apricots with 102,000 tons being dried. This accounted for 59% of the world’s total dried apricot exports, with 50% of them going to the EU or the US. Turkey is also the leading supplier of hazelnuts, accounting for approximately 70% of world production. According to the FAS, the total world production of hazelnuts was 617,000 tons, of which Turkey produced 430,000 tons. Global production has been on the decline for the past few years, though Turkey still dominates the market. Of the 430,000 tons produced, Turkey exported 411,785 tons, with 297,198 tons going to the EU.


Since Turkey is surrounded by three seas, it is in a prime position to produce a variety of different aquatic foodstuffs. According to the latest statistics from TurkStat, Turkey produced 704,000 tons of seafood, of which 515,000 tons were fish. Fisheries are also playing a more important role with production up from 61,000 tons in 2002 to 190,000 tons in 2011. This equaled a 209% increase over the decade. Turkey’s fisheries sector is the third fastest growing in the world according to the FAO. The Ministry of Food, Agriculture, and Livestock is also planning to step up its activities in monitoring and stopping illegal fishing in its waters with a Vessel Monitoring System.

Turkey’s agriculture sector is in a healthy state at the moment and the government will be looking to keep it that way while also making it as efficient and cost effective as possible.

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