Drought grows: Solution in ecological agriculture

IZMIR - Ciftci-Sen Board Member Adnan Cobanoglu stated that the drought that developed as a result of industrial agriculture, the allocation of agricultural lands to mining and energy companies and the government's policies has reached serious dimensions, and lost sight of the fact that the solution to this is in traditional and ecological agriculture.
The agricultural policies implemented by the AKP government continue to condemn the producers to the private sector and hunger. In recent years, foreign dependency on inputs such as fertilizer and seeds has made agricultural production impossible and separated farmers from the land. The producer has difficulty in covering the costs and has to cope with the effects of the climate crisis. 
The decrease in the clarity between seasons and the irregularity of precipitation have seriously reduced the productivity. On the one hand, excessive rainfall and floods, and on the other hand, crops are destroyed due to extreme heat and drought.
According to the 2024 February data of the General Directorate of Meteorology (MGM); The hottest February of the last 53 years was experienced, the lack of rainfall dried up the dams and drought alarms have already begun to be given in many cities. According to the drought map created by MGM, the entire Kurdistan and 3/4 of Turkey appear to be extremely dry. According to the map created, it is revealed that while mild arid areas are at their lowest level, the size of severe arid areas is increasing. Again, according to the warnings of environmental experts, the number of days in which temperatures fall below zero degrees at least once in a year is gradually decreasing. This means increased rainfall irregularity and the risk of drought.
The report published by the European Environment Agency last week shows that Southern Europe, including Turkey, is facing a serious drought. The agency stated that forest fires, extinction of biodiversity, energy outages and water scarcity due to heat and drought are approaching for this region.
Farmers' Union (Ciftci-Sen) Board Member Adnan Cobanoglu drew attention to the situation that agricultural policies have brought to agriculture, drought and what awaits farmers in the coming summer season. Pointing out that the agricultural policies of the government are neoliberal agricultural policies, Cobanoglu noted that in the early 2000s, agriculture began to change its character with the impositions of the IMF, the World Bank and the World Trade Organization under the name of "15 laws in 15 days". 
Stating that the aim of this is the commodification of food, Cobanoglu said: "The most important conflict point of the 21st century is the production of policies aimed at taking control of food into the hands of companies and the commodification of nature. The AKP government is the political power that implemented this best. It gave all its support to company seed growing and agricultural production. Direct Income Support they carried out practices that would cause many agricultural lands to be left out of production under the name of the Ministry of Agriculture, making them dependent on companies for input support. Again, for example, with the Agriculture-Based Specialized Organized Industrial Zones we see in Bergama, Dikili and Kınık regions, they emphasized greenhouse cultivation, gave state lands to companies free of charge, and gave the surrounding lands to companies free of charge. A system that takes farmers away from them through hasty expropriation is being implemented. Farmers are trying to be turned into workers."
Drawing attention to the impact of industrial agriculture on both climate change and productivity, Cobanoglu continued as follows: "There has been a continuous use of chemicals in agriculture since the 1960s. Throwing poisons into the soil inevitably eliminates the carbon absorption feature of the soil. The soil gives us food by absorbing carbon. But a climate crisis occurs because the chemicals used kill bacteria and insects in the soil. The drought is the result of this crisis. Meetings are being held to solve the so-called climate crisis. But in these meetings held by states, commodification is again discussed. We have had seeds that need more water planted for years. Local and traditional seeds were products that were suitable for climatic conditions and could grow without water. This is persistently imposed on us with the excuse of efficiency. Productivity is not about getting the most product from a unit area, but about keeping the area in production for many years. The best solution to the climate crisis is healthy soil and agricultural production."
Pointing out that another factor affecting production is the allocation of agricultural lands to energy and mining companies, Cobanoglu said that drought has a direct connection with ecological plunder. 
Stating that not only mines but also Geothermal Power Plants (GPPs), called "clean energy", cause the climate crisis, Cobanoglu said: "The chemicals used pollute both groundwater and soil. If we want to access healthy food, we need to increase the ecological struggle and stand against current energy policies. For example, The raisins that went to Europe 4-5 years ago were returned from the laboratories because they contained aphrotoxin. The reason is the difficulties experienced in drying and the climatic conditions that caused this. The climate crisis is not only a problem of drought, but also unseasonal rains. For example, the intense rain experienced last June, the rains caused a serious yield loss in olives and grapes. Wine grape producers suffered serious product losses. Companies are the ones who benefit from the climate crises again. The producers cannot produce products, cannot pay their debts, and these companies buy the products cheaply from them."
Evaluating MGM's latest data, Cobanoglu noted that the next summer will be marked by loss of productivity and diseases in crops. Emphasizing that this loss will increase even more if the rain falls during the flowering period after the season, Cobanoglu said: "Poverty, hunger and the confiscation of their lands are really waiting for the farmers. According to the New Agricultural Law, the state itself determines what the farmers will plant. If you do not produce the product it says, ‘I have determined, I will seize that land and rent it to someone else.’ We will encounter such cases in the coming years. The solution to this is again through ecological agriculture. This means that farmers continue production with the least input and produce local seeds and local products. Products that require a lot of water are not produced. For example, in Tire, intensive cattle support was given under the name of 'we will support animal husbandry'. Now the Tire Plain produces only corn. This is a situation that leads to excessive water use. If you privatize the pastures and seize the assets of the villagers, you will have to buy imported meat. Consumer cannot reach this."
MA / Tolga Güney