The Fertile Crescent is the boomerangshaped region of the Middle East that was home to some of the earliest human civilizations. Also known as the “Cradle of Civilization,” this area was the birthplace of a number of technological innovations, including writing, the wheel, agriculture, and the use of irrigation. With its potential, Turkey continues to be one of the key player in the region in agriculture and livestock.
Thank to its Convenient geographical conditions and climate, Turkey is a leading country in food and agriculture sector. Together with re-structuring efforts, privatization and a series of reforms such as reducing trade restrictions in agriculture sector starting in early 1980s resulted in creating present day domestic market, which is an integral part of the world economy.
Among the features which make the sector stronger, market size –which is closely related to the country's young population-, dynamic private sector economy, high tourism revenues and favorable climate conditions can be mentioned. Food sector has steadily grown in Turkey during recent years thanks to consumers who create increasing demand due to diversity of options presented by big retail centres. Increase in disposable incomes, change in consumption habits, increase in numbers of women employed in full-time jobs, resulted in an increase in demand for packaged and processed products such as delicatessen and frozen food.
Turkey is the leading producer of hazelnuts, dried apricots, seedless dried grapes and dried figs. Also, Turkey happens to be the strongest country in milk and dairy products production in the region. Additionally, while 11.500 is the total number of plant species in entire European continent, Turkey alone is estimated to host around 11.000 plant species.
While Turkey becomes one of the biggest markets for bakery products due to bread, which is one of the important parts of the eating habits in Turkey; dairy products such as milk, yoghurt, cheese, kefir and ayran, constitute irreplaceable parts of traditional Turkish cuisine. Although non-packaged products dominate the Turkish dairy products market traditionally and prevented a widely extended growth so far, they created an opportunity for the potential investors in the sector.
This potential make Turkey have a place among the best in the world as a place to choose as regional headquarters and supply center. Turkey asserts considerable hegemony over production and exportation of a variety of agricultural products such as hazelnuts, dried apricots, seedless dried grapes and dried figs in the international area. Aside from these, Turkish food industry is much better developed compared to Turkey's neighbors. Additionally, Turkey is one of the biggest agricultural product exporters in Eastern Europe, Middle East and North Africa (EMEA); thus, it has a great foreign trade surplus in this sector. Turkey provides a series of incentives for investors in agriculture and food sector. Support mechanism provided by the Turkish government includes advantageous regulations, taxing system, competitive work force and investment incentives.
Turkey's goal to become one of the 10-largest global economies has led to the launch of a new set of programs for industry and agriculture. Recently, the government has taken major steps to improve livestock and agriculture in Turkey. As part of this expansive program, organic agriculture will be supported with government incentives and farmers will be provided low-interest loans. The overall purpose of the program is to nurture agriculture in the country as the population continues to increase and reduce the share of imports.
R&D AND INNOVATION STUDIES
The competitiveness of agricultural producers in the world is directly related to the knowledge they have developed along with the natural resources they possess and the technology they produce. In this context, R&D is a key factor in ensuring sustainability and food safety with the impact on productivity and the added value it creates. The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has included R&D activities as a policy priority and has designated this area as a strategic priority. In this context, the General Directorate of Agricultural Research and Policies (TAGEM) carries on their activities with 50 research institutes, with 6,235 employees in these institutions and 284 laboratories in 200 thousand decares, which is the largest research organization in Turkey. In the last 10 years, the infrastructure of the Research Institutes has been renewed and 21 advanced R&D and Training Centers, with the latest technology and specialized on the basis of subject, have been established. Besides, 15 new centers are also under construction.
Within the scope of R&D activities, important studies continue in the institutes to meet the needs of animal and plant production sector. These institutes have developed 940 seed varieties, corresponding to 31% of the varieties registered in the seed sector, which made significant breakthroughs in recent years.
In addition to the research done by the Ministry's research institutes, the development of information and technology, in the priority issues of the Ministry and the agriculture sector, is supported under the R&D Support Program since 2007. At the same time, R&D projects prepared by universities, non-governmental organizations and the private sector are supported in order to develop the R&D capacities of the institutions in agriculture sector. Up to now 413 projects have been supported and 61.2 million TL has been paid to these projects. As of 2017, radical changes have been made in the program and the most noteworthy of these changes is to raise the upper limit of support given per project from ten times to 3,000,000 TL from 300,000 TL. Thus, it is aimed to provide more attractive support for the realization of large-scale projects. In addition to these, one each R&DOffice has been established in 50 research institutes spread over 35 provinces inhere in TAGEM, which can be used free of charge by the private sector and other organizations working or working in agriculture R&D and innovation fields, in order to accelerate the public-private sector business cooperation. Everyone who comes to these offices is able to benefit from the infrastructure and technical support facilities of the institutes, so that they have the chance to make on their dreams come true without having to make high-cost expenditures on project ideas.
“COME TO TURKEY”
Turkey is an attractive country is the need for both national and international investors. In this context, significant studies are being done, to encourage investments and to prepare appropriate conditions for investors, and serious transfer of funds is provided. As a result, investments in many sectors are increasing and agriculture is at the forefront of these sectors.
Our country has great investment opportunities in agriculture sector with its growing demand and proximity to important markets in the livestock sector; appropriate coastal and facilitating legal infrastructure for large-scale farms in the fisheries and aquaculture sector; the potential to become a regional supply center with its rich raw material presence and advanced processing technology in the food sector; proximity to important markets in the halal food sector; convenient marketing export opportunities in the fresh fruit and vegetable sector; the 4th in the world and 1st in Europe in production amount and large geothermal energy sources in greenhouse sector and with approximately 12,000 plant species, including 4,000 endemic species, and rich genetic resources.
Foreign investors are subject to equal treatment with domestic investors as a result of establishing a company in our country or partnering with an existing company. In this context, foreign investors to invest in agriculture in Turkey can be benefit from the supports and incentives provided by the Ministry and other public institutions if they are registered with the National Taxation System. Investments made in the field of agriculture are encouraged by incentive packages implemented by the Ministry of Treasury and Finance, support programs implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, interest-deductible loans applied by Ziraat Bank and Agricultural Credit Cooperatives.
As of the end of April 2018, 54,585 companies with international capital have been established and 6,914 companies with domestic capital have participated in international capital participation. There are 1,468 companies operating in the food, agriculture, hunting, forestry and fishery sectors among the 61,499 companies with international capital established in our country in total. Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry will continue to support the producers for their works as aware of the burden of responsibility for the sector and that it is up to the present to take care of the nation's well-being and the nation's welfare in this sensitive period.investors, and serious transfer of funds is provided. As a result, investments in many sectors are increasing and agriculture is at the forefront of these sectors.
By Ramazan Güzyurdu
The Turkish Perspective