UN: More than 20% of Turkey’s food production damaged by the earthquakes

UN: More than 20% of Turkey’s food production damaged by the earthquakes
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The February earthquakes that hit southern Turkey and took more than 55,000 lives also caused extensive structural damage. The UN’s food agency reports that Turkey’s food sector is at heightened risk as the harvest season approaches.

The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FOA) reported on Friday that more than 20 percent of Turkey’s food production had been damaged by the devastating earthquakes that hit Turkey and Syria on February 6.

The UN food agency’s initial assessments on the earthquake’s impact “indicate severe damage to agriculture, including crops, livestock, fisheries and aquaculture, as well as rural infrastructure.”

The earthquake caused extensive structural damage to infrastructure necessary for agriculture and livestock in a region where public health continues to deteriorate as many survivors are still unable to access basic of food and shelter.

The FOA estimates that the quakes caused $1.3 billion in agricultural damage, as well as $5.1 billion in losses to the sector. “Damage refers to the replacement or repair cost of totally or partially destroyed physical assets and stocks, such as agricultural infrastructure, livestock, and crops. Whereas a loss refers to the economic and productive impact of the damage, such as reduced availability of food and higher food prices due to the loss of stored crops.”

The agency notes that since more than one-third of the population in the earthquake region live in rural areas dependent on agricultural production that has halted due to labor losses, structural damage, and disruption to supply chains, the struggle to maintain a livelihood has been exacerbated.

Mesut Ozer, a farmer from one of the impacted provinces, tells the agency, “Planting before the end of rainfall is our only chance to ensure a healthy crop for the coming year, given the damage to our irrigation channels and agricultural infrastructure. We need fertilizers now before it's too late."

To respond to these needs, the FOA has renewed its funding appeal and is seeking $112 million, including $25 million previously sought by the UN’s Flash Appeal in February. The funds will be used to deliver support to impacted communities by “providing cash, rehabilitating damaged infrastructure at household level, distributing livestock feed and providing quality inputs.”

FAO Representative in Turkey, Viorel Gutu says, “The planting season deadline is approaching. We need to urgently support our farmers by providing fertilizers and seeds. This is our only chance to maintain crop production levels this year. We also need to provide animals with feed to maintain their health and productivity."