Agriculture and farming in Turkey main information
Turkey covers a geographic area of 783 560 km². Country, situated at the crossroads of the Balkans, Caucasus, Middle East, and eastern Mediterranean, is a significant producer and exporter of agricultural commodities on global markets. Turkey is estimated to be the world’s 7th largest agricultural producer, particularly a top producer and exporter of crops ranging from hazelnuts and chestnuts to apricots, cherries, figs, olives, quinces, tobacco and tea.
In terms of agricultural lands, Turkey is also one of the largest countries in the world. About 35.5% of the country are arable lands and 15% consists of forests. The cultivated land is around 23,7 million hectares as per 2016. Around 18.4% of the cultivated land is irrigated. The surface of irrigated land is increasing in Turkey. Irrigated area in Turkey has been increased approximately 400% since 1960’s . Another issue besides the amount of irrigated area is the actual irrigation techniques used. The main problem in agricultural consumption is related to the efficiency of irrigation methods: 88.5% of the total irrigation area is irrigated through flood irrigation, 8.5% is spring irrigation and only 3% is drip irrigation. Average irrigation efficiency is only 45%. Nevertheless, crop yields are still extremely sensitive to variations in rainfall. In good crop years, Turkey exports cereals, but in drought years, it must import them.
Of the total area of 523,627 hectares
- 76.4% consists of arable crops and
- 16.5% permanent crops, while another
- 4.7% is given over to permanent grassland and grazing areas.
The key arable crops are
- cereals (197,877 hectares),
- green fodder from arable land (174,136 hectares) and
- crops for industrial uses (14,315 hectares).
The key permanent crops are
- olives (36,261 hectares),
- nuts (19,320 hectares) and
- apricots (4,946 hectares).
Europe is home to approximately 11.500 different plant species. 11.000 of them can be found in Turkey. No wonder that 25 percent of Turkey’s total workforce is active in farming. Historically, the agricultural sector has been Turkey’s largest employer and a major contributor to the country’s GDP, exports and rural development. Although in relation to the industrial and service sectors, share of agriculture has been declining in importance, it nonetheless continues to play a fundamental role in Turkish society, generating most of the income and employment in rural areas.
Turkey is one of the few countries in the world that is self-sufficient in terms of food. The country's fertile soil, access to sufficient water, a suitable climate, and hard-working farmers, all make for a successful agricultural sector. In addition, a broad range of crops can be raised because of the variety of different climates throughout the land. This has allowed Turkey to become the largest producer and exporter of agricultural products in the Near East and North African regions.
According to the World Bank (2021) data, its value added agriculture increased from $27.5 billion in 2000 to $48.9 billion in 2019 (in current prices). A share of the value added agriculture in Turkey’s gross domestic product has a declining trend. It decreased from 10% in 2000 to 6.4% in 2019. Employment in agriculture as a share of total employment also shows steady reduction. It decreased from 39.3% in 2000 to 18.4% in 2019. However, the indicator remains high compared to developed or other developing countries. For the same period, labor productivity in Turkey increased from $7.200 to $16.900.
In the agriculture sector, the value of crop production is 57%, animal products 34%, forestry 6% and fisheries 3%. By international standards, Turkey is a major producer of grain, cotton, tobacco, grapes, sunflower, pulses (chickpeas and lentils), dried fruit (hazelnuts, seedless raisins, figs, apricots), fresh fruits (apples and citrus), tomatoes, tea and small ruminants (sheep, goats).
Another characteristic of Turkish agriculture is the small farm size. There are just over 4 million farm households in Turkey. 67% of these farms each owns between 0.1-5 hectares of land, (22% of total agricultural land), while only 33% of households own more than 5 hectares - comprising 78% of available agricultural land. Farm output therefore remains low in comparison to the country's enormous potential and farmers' average income is also low. Small farm size and lack of economies of scale, coupled with increases in input prices, dependency on rainfed agriculture, and lack of efficient market mechanisms are leading to a rapid rural exodus. Large farms are concentrated mainly in the Konya, Adana, and Izmir regions. Agricultural methods still tend to be primitive, but modern machinery has been introduced.
Regions in the context of agriculture.
East Anatolia Region is the region where the population density is at least. A large part of the region consists of mountains. It is the region with the highest elevation. Livelihoods are agriculture and animal husbandry. Turkey’s largest lake, Lake Van and Mount Ararat is the highest mountain here. Because of the rugged terrain in the region, agricultural areas are narrow. Therefore, the agricultural population density is high. The region has a harsh continental climate. It is the region where the average annual temperature is the lowest and winters are the longest and the hardest. In winter, temperatures drop to -40 degrees. In the region, winters last longer, especially around Erzurum-Kars for 5-6 months. During the summer, the temperature is around 20 degrees and the summer season is short. The most common vegetation in the region is steppe. In Turkey Eastern Anatolia region is where the maximum height and the lowest temperature is seen. For this reason, products in this region grow late. This is the least favorable region in vegetable production, where agricultural product diversity is the least.
Central Anatolia Region is the second largest region of Turkey. It is the driest and least rainy region of Turkey with the highest erosion rates. It is also known as Turkey’s granary. Furthermore, Salt Lake, Cappadocia and the capital Ankara are in this region. The economy is based on agriculture. The agricultural population density is low and the population is distributed regularly in the region due to the large plains. The large plateaus also cause the stability of the climate conditions. Surrounded by high mountains the region has closed basins such as Konya, Salt Lake, Akşehir ve Eber. The climate here is considered to be a local steppe climate. Summers are hot and dry, winters are cold and snowy. Temperatures are 23-24 degrees in summer and 0 to -3o degrees in winter. The annual temperature difference is high. It is the region which has the least rainfall due to being surrounded by high mountains. Humidity and precipitation are more in the north of the region. The simplicity of the ground shapes has led to a wide area of cultivated areas. The ratio of the cultivated area (27%) after Marmara is the highest. The use of machinery in agriculture is common. Most of the population is engaged in agriculture. It is the region where cereal is produced most and it is one of the leading wheat products.
Black Sea Region covers approximately 18% of the territory of the country. It is the region where the east-west width is the most. It is the most forested region of the country. Four seasons of precipitation can be seen. It is the only region where the tea plant grows. The ruggedness of landforms limits mechanization in agriculture. Therefore, there is no need for human and animal power in agriculture. This is especially the case in the Eastern Black Sea Region. In the Black Sea region, precipitation and slope are the most common areas of landslides. Especially in East and West Black Sea, the landslide is more. In the Black Sea climate, summers are cool (23-24 degrees), winters are warm (5-7 degrees) and rainy every season. It is the region where cloudy, humidity and rainfall are the most common. It is the region with the lowest temperature difference and the number of sunny days. Most rainfall is seen in the fall while the least rainfall is in the spring. The vegetation on the coast is the forest. In the interior, there is a continental climate
Mediterranean Region has 15% of the territory of Turkey. It is the most rugged part of the country. It is the region with the highest annual average temperature. The Mediterranean climate cannot enter the interior. For this reason, climate, vegetation and cultivated products are seen differently between coastal and inland areas. The coastal cliffs are high and natural ports are small. Transportation between the coastal and inner parts is provided through the passageways. The trade between the coastal and the inner parts has not developed at the desired level. The number of plains is low in the Mediterranean region. The Mediterranean coast is characterized by a characteristic Mediterranean climate. Summers are hot and dry, winters are mild and rainy. Summer temperature is 27-28 degrees, winter temperature is 8-10 degrees. It is one of the regions with the highest number of sunny days. The high winter temperature makes the greenhouse cheaper. For this reason, the most common place of greenhouse cultivation is Antalya section on the Mediterranean coast.
Aegean Region covers approximately 10% of the turkey. It is the region with the highest coastal length. It ranks second after Marmara in terms of development and population density. It is in the distribution area of the Mediterranean climate. A transition climate is experienced between the Mediterranean climate of Central Western Anatolia and the steppe climate of Central Anatolia. Since the mountains on the shore are perpendicular to the sea, the sea effect can be inland for 150-200 km. Agriculture is an important source of income. In this situation, it is effective to have a large and efficient agricultural area, to be suitable for agriculture and to solve the irrigation problem to a great extent. Wet winters in the coastal Aegean region led to cheaper greenhouses.
The Marmara region is the sixth in terms of area, with a share of 8.5%. It is the region with the lowest altitude rate, the most climate type is seen, the most energy-consuming, transportation, and trade is the most developed, the population density is the highest, the rate of urbanization is the highest. The region with the lowest average height. The highest mountain in the region is Uludağ with 2543 m. The elevation of other mountains is not much. The transportation network has been developed due to the simplicity of the ground shapes and the special location. This situation has led to the collection of many industrial organizations in this region. The region with the highest proportion of cultivated land (30%). It shows a full transition climate feature. Mediterranean climate, continental climate, and the Black Sea climate are seen in the region. The average annual temperature is 14-15 degrees. Winters are not cold (3-6 degrees). Summers are not too hot (23-25 degrees). Southeastern Anatolia is the smallest region in the country. All of Turkey’s oil production is done in this area. It has a simple structure in terms of landforms. The plateau and plains in the area are large. Summers are hot and dry. Southeast Anatolia is the place where summer temperature and evaporation intensity are the most common. Therefore, the need for precipitation or irrigation is much higher than in other regions. In the region, the most common vegetation is steppe. The economy of the region is based on agriculture and animal husbandry. The presence of large plains facilitates agriculture. The high summer drought limits the production of many agricultural products. Natural conditions are particularly suitable for grain and lentil production. Pistachio, cotton, rice, sesame, and tobacco are also produced. Ovine livestock is important because of the large step. Especially sheep are grown. Hair goat and angora goat are also grown.
The main species of cereal crops produced in Turkey are wheat, barley, oats, rye, maize, millet, and rice. These crops are produced in most parts of the country, with a heavier concentration in the central regions. Of all these, wheat has a special place in the Turkish economy. Turkey is both a top 10 producer and a top 10 consumer of wheat in the world. It is the essential food element in the Turkish diet, generally eaten in the form of bread. Production increases in the late 1970s enabled the country to become a wheat exporter and, although the output slowed down in the early 1980s, renewed efforts have seen wheat production continue to expand. The major industrial crops produced in Turkey are cotton, tobacco, and sugar beets.
Cotton is crucial to the wider economy since it provides the fiber for textiles, the leading category of Turkish exports. Only 10 percent of cotton is exported in raw form, while the rest feeds the domestic textile industry. Turkey also imports additional cotton as an input for its advanced textile sector and inputs for its food processing and bakery sector. Turkey’s textile industry remains vital to its economy in terms of investment, employment and exports.
Turkish tobacco is world famous for its lightness and mildness. Most of the crop is grown in the Aegean region, but the finest tobacco is grown around Samsun, on the Black Sea coast. Tobacco has been grown in Turkey for many centuries, and the tobacco industry is a major player in the Turkish economy, contributing 18 percent of total agricultural exports. Turkey ranks as the fifth largest tobacco-producing country in the world, and its number-one producer of Oriental tobacco, of which it grows over half of the world's supply. The country is also the world's fourth largest tobacco exporter.
Turkey is also the main pulse producer in the Middle East and one of the leading producers in the world.
Sugar beet is second commodity in the country with a high increase in recent years. Perishable fruit and vegetables are also important to the Turkish economy. Out of the 140 perishables grown in the world, the country produces 80 varieties of fresh fruits and vegetables and exports 30 kinds of vegetable and 20 kinds of fruit. These include grapes, citrus fruit, melons, potatoes, onions, tomatoes, olives, and cucumbers. These exports are worth over US$1 billion annually to Turkey. The country is among the world’s top producers of figs, apricots, cherries, quinces and hazelnuts the latter of which accounts for nearly two-thirds of global production. It is among the top five producers for leeks, watermelons, peanuts, cucumbers, peppers, apples, walnuts, tea and aubergines, according to the MFAL’s General Directorate of Vegetative Production. Turkey is also a leading producer of tomatoes, devoting a total of 328,000 ha to tomato growing, with industrial-scale production dating back to the early 1980s.
Turkey is prominent, too, in the world trade of edible nuts and dried fruits. In this category of agricultural products, hazelnuts, pistachios, sultanas, dried apricots, and dried figs are important exports. They are spread to the world with their tastes and qualities. Turkey has a leading position for hazelnut, cherry, fig and apricot production and exports in the world. 67 percent of the hazelnut production, 26 percent of the cherry production, 27 percent of fig and 23 percent of apricot production in the world are just produced by Turkey and it ranks first in world production of these products.
Turkey is a large consumer of tree nuts, especially importing almonds and walnuts from the United States. Nuts and dried fruit are commonly consumed as snacks in Turkey, but a large volume of nuts is also used in confectionary products and sweets to produce value-added products domestically. The U.S. and EU exported $340 million of tree nuts to Turkey in 2019.
Animal husbandry is an important part of Turkey's agricultural sector and economy. Turkey has traditionally been an important supplier of live sheep, lamb, and mutton to the Middle East, especially Iran and Iraq. As of 2015 sheep constitute 60 percent of the existing animal total in Turkey, followed by cattle (22 percent) and goats, both the common goat and the Angora breed (16 percent). Most livestock is grazed in the central and eastern Anatolian plains, as well as in the western Anatolian region. Turkey is self-sufficient in milk products, supplying around 18,6 million tons per year (2015). Wool is a significant export of Turkey, which is also used internally for making world-famous Turkish carpets.
Poultry production expanded rapidly after 1980's, Turkey has reached the level of developed nations in this sector: it's the world's 10th and Europe's 2nd biggest poultry meat producer with 2,1 million tons of poultry meat (as of 2017). Meanwhile, annual chick production in the country reaches 640 million, including 40 million for egg production. In 2017 around 17,9 billion (1,2 million tons) of eggs were produced.
Calculations based on the International Trade Centre (2021) data show that Turkey’s exports of agricultural and food products increased from $4 billion in 2001 to $17.7 billion in 2019. For the same period, a share of agriculture in total exports decreased from 13% to 10.4%. The country’s agricultural exports are diversified and include fruits, vegetables, products of the milling industry, tobacco products, etc. Trade balance in agricultural products is positive for Turkey. The country's main export markets are the EU and the United States, to which Turkey exports dried fruit and nuts, cotton, and tobacco. Another major export market is the Middle East, which buys fresh fruit, vegetables, and meats from Turkey.The country’s agricultural imports mainly consist of cereals, soyabeans, sunflower seeds, oil seeds, fruits and vegetables, tobacco products, etc. The value of the commodities which are imported from the USA is nearly 2.5 billion $. Ukraine is second, Russion Federation is third. Turkey covers a geographic area of 783 560 km², with 8 333 km of coastline on the Black Sea, the Aegean Sea, the Mediterranean Sea, the Sea of Marmora, the Bosporus and Dardanelles. Turkey has rich inland waters and river systems with significant potential for capture and culture-based fisheries.
In 2017, total fishery production amounted to about 628 000 tonnes comprised of marine capture (51 percent), inland capture (5 percent) and aquaculture (44 percent). The total estimate of national fishing vessels reported in national statistics was 17 497 (2017), of which 73 percent were vessels under 5 GT. The 2017, total number of marine fishers was 31 842, 344 of those workers were women. An additional 10500 people were engaged in aquaculture.
Despite Turkey's long coastline and large freshwater bodies, fishing is an underdeveloped industry compared to other sectors. As of 2017, the annual catch is 354,318 tons for the sea fish and around 276,502 from aquaculture. The Black Sea, Sea of Marmara, Aegean Sea and the Mediterranean constitute the main fishing grounds. Almost 40 percent of the aquaculture production was provided by rainbow trout culture which is conducted in concrete ponds and net cages in dam lakes and reservoirs. European seabass and gilthead seabream are the main marine fish culture species. The bulk of total aquaculture production is exported. In 2017 fish and fishery product total exports were worth USD 858 million, and imports USD 445 million. Per capita consumption of fish and fishery products was about 4.9 kg in 2016. As for the fish consumption, Turkey is also behind the world average: Turkish people eat 5,5 kilograms (12,1 pounds) of fish per capita per year, meanwhile the world average is around 16 kilograms and the EU average is around 22 kilograms per person.