Municipal produce stands get mixed reactions from Turks

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As some municipalities across İstanbul and Ankara began to sell produce at relatively low prices this week in an attempt by the Turkish government to fight skyrocketing food prices, Turkish people have had mixed reactions to the municipal produce stands.

Since the beginning of the week Turkish media outlets have covered the sale of produce from these stands and the long queues that form in front of them.

Some Turks who spoke to various news outlets while waiting in line expressed satisfaction with the fact that they can get food at relatively cheap prices although they sometimes have to wait for hours, while others criticized the government for taking the country back decades when people had to stand in a queue for hours to get oil or gas.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, whose Justice and Development Party (AKP) has been in power since 2002, has on many occasions criticized former governments of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), which is now the main opposition party, for making people wait in lines to get gas, sugar and oil.

It is possible to buy tomatoes, cucumbers, spinach, potatoes, onions, eggplant and peppers from the municipal produce stands, but the amount one can buy is limited to three kilograms.

A 60-year-old İstanbul resident, who introduced himself only as Süheyl, said in an interview with Deutsche Welle Turkish service that the lines that form in front of the municipal produce stands remind him of the past, adding that the situation is even worse today.

“I have never seen anything like this before. There were queues to get oil before. I am seeing this extent [of desperation] for the first time. They [the government] are making people suffer. [And to think] I have to get into a line to get produce at this age,” he said.

The sale of produce was promised by President Erdoğan, who has been blaming wholesalers and retailers for the recent inflation.

“Prices have been cut in half through these sales. We won’t stop there, we’ll do the same with household cleaning products,” Erdoğan said in Ankara on Monday.

Some İstanbulites oppose President Erdoğan’s putting the blame on wholesalers and retailers for the increasing food prices.

A 41-year-old man named Murat told Deutsche Welle that the government should take measures to reduce the expenses of wholesalers and retailers so that they can sell produce at lower prices.

“The price of the gasoline should be lowered and producers should be given more state support,” he said.

According to a statement from Fahrettin Poyraz, who heads the agricultural loans general directorate, the sale of produce from municipal stands will last for two and a half months. The duration of the sale has made many people to question whether the sale of produce at lower prices is a move by the government to win the hearts of the voters ahead of the local elections slated for March 31.

Yet, some Turkish people are angry about the criticisms made against the government over the municipal produce stands.

For instance, a man while waiting in a queue in İstanbul, told Deutsche Welle without giving his name that Erdoğan is giving a fight against inflation all alone and Turkey will overcome all the hardships thanks to him while another one reacts to the Erdoğan critics in the queue and tells them not to buy produce from the municipal stands if they are to criticize Erdoğan.

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