Anatolia News Agency

Turkey's foreign trade indicators for the first half of the year disclosed a record increase in agricultural import products, according to the head of a business organization in the southwestern city of Denizli.
Data released by the Turkish Statistical Institute, or TÜİK, on July 31 revealed that imports of agricultural products for the first half of the year rose 53.4 percent compared to the same period of 2007, increasing from nearly $2.35 billion to $3.6 billion, said İbrahim Gür, president of the Denizli Chamber of Agricultural Engineers.
Exports of agricultural products rose by 11.8 percent from $1.61 billion to $1.8 billion, he said. �Foreign trade deficit in agriculture for the first half of this year reached $1.802 billion on the basis of these data,� Gür said.

Criticism of policies
The foreign trade deficit in agricultural products, which stood at $900 million throughout 2007, is likely to reach $3.6 billion for this year, Gür said. �The drought that the country suffered during 2007 cannot be depicted as the sole reason behind this situation,� Gür said.
�The International Monetary Fund-World Bank poverty alleviation policies separate the link between the subsidies and agricultural production, while the increase in the value of input prices and the movements, which operate to the detriment of agriculture in the internal terms of trade, shrink the arable lands and hence result in the deterioration of quality and productivity in agriculture,� he said.
Turkey is becoming a net importer country in the field of agriculture as a result of these developments, said Gür. �Turkey, as a country which experiences a population increase of 700,000 to 800,000 per year, is producing less in agriculture and paying $3.6 billion to import agricultural goods in just six months,� he said. �This situation is extremely worrisome for our country, particularly when we take into account the food crisis simmering around the globe.�
The Chamber of Agricultural Engineers, under the umbrella of the Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects, has called on the government to make necessary investments in the agricultural sector and pay attention to the increasing strategic significance of the agricultural sector, said Gür. The government should take action to create an environment that will enable agricultural engineers to work productively and provide for the production of environmentally friendly and healthy agricultural products, he said.