Hürriyet Daily News | Sunday, September 12, 2010
ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Foreign investors are increasingly focusing on opportunities in Turkish agriculture, according to the head of a rice company. Mehmet Erdo?an, chairman of Sezon Pirinç, says agriculture will be a crucial sector soon, as food shortages could even become causes of wars. ‘Hedge funds and lenders are also getting ready to purchase or rent agricultural land,’ he says.
Foreign investment, which until recently focused mainly on the retail, tourism and finance sectors, has begun to rapidly shift toward agriculture, according to Mehmet Erdo?an, chairman of Turkish rice producer Sezon Pirinç.
As the issue is very important for Turkey’s agricultural sector, it should be seriously discussed in terms of the nation’s strategy for the upcoming years, Erdo?an said in a press statement.
Turkey has around 24.3 million hectares of agricultural land, Erdo?an said, adding that currently 16.2 million hectares of this is used. “Four million hectares are uncultivated and three million hectares are perennial. This situation makes Turkish agriculture one of the main targets for foreign capital.”
Noting that foreign capital is being used for agricultural land purchases, Erdo?an said according to United Nations data in the last three years 30 million hectares of arable land worldwide has been purchased or rented with foreign capital.
The world has 2.7 billion hectares of arable land, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization. Erdo?an said only 1.5 billion hectares of this is used.
Food security a key issue
“The rest, 1.2 billion hectares, mostly in the southern hemisphere, attracts foreign capital as agriculture will be a crucial sector very soon and can even be the cause of wars.
“Foreign investors know that there is a large market in Turkey and they are trying to invest in trade, production and technology of the agricultural sector,” he said. “Meanwhile, hedge funds and lenders are also preparing to purchase or rent arable land.”
Due to food crises and global warming, the importance of the agricultural sector has increased, Erdo?an said.
Some countries such as China, South Korea and Saudi Arabia make purchases at the governmental level in other countries to cover their natural resource shortages, he said. “During recent years, as the effects of global warming have increased, the main purpose of these acquisitions has begun to be cornering water resources. We should not forget that competitiveness in the agricultural sector will increase much more with the entrance of foreign capital. So, it is advised to take measures in parallel with this situation.”Sezon Pirinç has a rice production facility in Edirne, Turkey.