Quake hit one-fifth of Turkey’s food production: UN

The devastating earthquake that struck southern Turkey and neighboring Syria in February damaged more than 20 percent of Turkey’s agricultural production, the UN food agency said on Friday.

The 7.8 magnitude earthquake on February 6th killed more than 55,000 people and their aftermath, leaving many others in dire straits.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said initial assessments in Turkey showed “significant damage to agriculture, including crops, livestock, fisheries and aquaculture, as well as rural infrastructure in affected areas”.

“The earthquake severely affected 11 main agricultural provinces affecting 15.73 million people and more than 20 percent of the country’s food production,” he said in a statement.

“The earthquake-hit region, known as Turkey’s ‘Fertile Crescent,’ accounts for nearly 15 percent of agricultural GDP and contributes to nearly 20 percent of Turkey’s agri-food exports.”

He estimated that the earthquake caused $1.3 billion in damage, destroying infrastructure, livestock and crops, and $5.1 billion in losses to the agricultural sector.

When the earthquake struck, buildings collapsed, crops were damaged and animals were killed, but the resulting destruction created a shortage of barns, food and vaccines for surviving livestock.

The labor shortage is also having an impact, and is of particular concern as the summer harvest season approaches.

The IMF is appealing for $112 million to help earthquake-hit communities in Turkey, including $25 million under a wider UN appeal issued in February for cash, livestock and agricultural support provided to 900,000 people in rural areas.

“The deadline for the planting season is approaching. We urgently need to support our farmers by providing fertilizers and seeds,” said FAO coordinator Viorel Gutu.

“This is our only chance to maintain crop production levels this year. We also need to feed animals to maintain their health and productivity.”

The EBT said that more than one-third of the population in the most difficult areas depended on agriculture for survival.

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