President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has called recent excessive vegetable and fruit price hikes “food terrorism,” vowing that sales launched on Feb. 11 by several municipalities across the country will lead to market control.
“In recent days they began playing a game on Turkey. Prices of eggplants, tomatoes, potatoes, and cucumbers began to escalate. It was a terrorist attack,” Erdoğan said at the opening ceremonies of multiple projects in Ankara.
He likened the government’s struggle against hike in food prices to its fight against terrorism.
He identified the increase in food prices as “games launched against Turkey.”
“We will not allow those to launch this terror,” he added.
The president said the government had taken action against those behind the “food terror” the same way it raided “terror caves” in Cudi, Gabar and Tendürek mountains in Turkey’s east against the illegal PKK, launching the sales of cheaper fruits and vegetables by municipalities directly to consumers. The prices will be almost cut by half, he added.
The government will also put the same measures on the sales of cleaning products, he stated.
Some municipalities in Istanbul and Ankara started selling cheaper fruits and vegetables directly to consumers in an effort to curb the prices of those items, with long queues lining up at the sellers on the first day of the practice.
There will be 50 sale points in Istanbul and 15 in Ankara. According to data from the Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜİK), onions, whose average price in January was 4.9 Turkish Liras per kilogram, is sold by a municipality of Ankara for 2 liras as of Feb. 11.
According to the latest official data, food prices increased by 6.43 percent in January from the previous month. The annual increase was 30.7 percent.
Last month, fresh vegetable and fruit prices jumped 29.7 percent on a monthly basis while the annual rise for those items was 64 percent.
“In January, food inflation hit a 20-year high. However, if food inflation had been what it was in December, the headline inflation, in fact, would have declined by 0.43 percent on a monthly basis and the annual inflation would have been 18.85 percent,” Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak said last week.
“Self-seeking behavior is unacceptable. The latest information suggests that something intriguing has been going on [regarding vegetable prices]. We will take necessary measures. Our citizens will see that any problem could be resolved if the state steps in.”
Albayrak also announced that the state-run lender Ziraat Bankasi on Feb. 8 will unveil the details of a package designed to support greenhouse farming.
Trade Minister Ruhsan Pekcan said 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.
Officials also fined another 76 companies some 810,000 liras for selling unregistered products and other irregularities, according to the minister.