Drought hits Turkish cotton crop hard, precipitous rise in imports expected

ANKARA (Reuters) – Temperatures reaching 44 degrees Celsius (110 Fahrenheit) and water shortages will hit crops this season, representatives of farmer cooperatives were quoted as saying yesterday. The head of Turkey’s largest cooperative Taris said he expected Turkey’s cotton crop to fall by half this year, the state Anatolia news agency reported. «Producers will not have much to sell this year. For that reason, we expect cotton imports to rise to one million tons this year from 600,000-700,000 tons,» Basri Ozcoban said. Turkey is a major textiles and apparel manufacturer. The government predicts an 8 percent fall in the grain harvest this year, but farmers fear it could be more. «There is no water in the Menderes River. There is no water in the (irrigation) canals. We want the dam waters to be released as soon as possible and let us save our crops,» NTV news channel quoted Erol Onder, a farm cooperative representative in Aydin province in western Turkey, as saying. Officials at the state grains office were not immediately available for comment. The heat wave has reportedly killed two elderly men this week in Turkey. Turkish authorities have asked people to stay indoors at midday and some provinces have declared two- or three-day holidays for pregnant and physically disabled civil servants or moved working hours to earlier in the day. Economists are worried that the fall in agricultural production may also hurt the government’s efforts to cut inflation by raising food prices.

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