Turkish government vows measures to curb food prices

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The government has vowed to take all measures possible to boost agricultural production and ensure food price stability, including direct vegetable and fruit sales to consumers through municipalities.

“We will implement an intense program in every fields in order to increase agricultural output and ensure stability in food prices,” Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrakwrote on Twitter on Feb. 10.

Albayrak also stressed that state-owned lender Ziraat has unveiled a loan package, backed by the Treasury, which is designed to strengthen greenhouse farming and to boost production.

As part of the package, Ziraat will lend loans with up to seven years maturity with a grace period of two years to finance investments in greenhouse farming.

The interest rate on the loan facility, which will be provided for investments worth 10 million Turkish Liras ($1.9 million), will be 8.25 percent.

Meanwhile, Trade Minister Ruhsan Pekcan said that officials carried out inspection at wholesale vegetable and fruit markets in the provinces of Istanbul, Ankara, Antalya, Mersin and Adana on Feb. 26 which unveiled that some traders charged excessive prices.

“The inspections revealed that the prices of certain products have been hiked by as much as 800 percent. The ministry has started procedures to impose a total of 2 million liras of fines on 88 companies that charge excessive prices,” Pekcan said in a written statement on Feb. 10.

Officials also fined another 76 companies some 810,000 liras for selling unregistered products and other irregularities, according to the minister.

She added that the scope of the inspections will widen to identify unreasonable price increases that could not be explained by demand and supply dynamics, input costs or higher exchange rates.

“The inspections have already started to show their positive impact. The prices of some main products declined as much as 45 percent over the past three days,” she said.

Municipalities step in

Meanwhile, the municipality in Istanbul’s Gazioşmanpaşa district has started to sell cheaper fruits and vegetables directly to consumers.

The municipality is conducting the sales with a truck. Mayor Hasan Tahsin Usta said that the truck will visit different neighborhoods in the district on different days.

“That will bring the prices down in supermarkets and street markets,” Usta said.

The Ankara Metropolitan Municipality has also set up stands, tents in 15 different areas across the city to sell vegetable and fruits.

The municipality is set to start the sales on Feb. 11 at the city’s busy areas, such as the parks, squares or the entrances of the metro network. The municipality will use a bus, two large trucks and 12 tents to sell the products.

According to the latest official data, food prices increased by 1.08 percent month-on-month in December 2018, bringing the annual inflation in this item to 25 percent. The headline consumer price inflation was 20.3 percent in 2018.

On a monthly basis, fruit and vegetable prices rose by 5.87 percent in December last year, whereas the annual increase was 30.8 percent.

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