Early estimates suggest the damage caused to the livestock, fisheries and aquaculture sectors by the recent Turkey-Syria earthquake is more than $5 billion.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) found the 6 February earthquake has caused $5.1bn in losses to Turkey’s food sector – mostly due to reduced availability and higher prices due to the loss of crops.
It has also resulted in $1.3bn of damages to agricultural infrastructure and storage facilities, as well as creating excess animal deaths and injuries.
The earthquake hit 11 key agricultural provinces – known as Turkey’s 'fertile crescent' – affecting more than 20% of the country's food production.
The area accounts for nearly 15% of agricultural GDP and contributes to almost 20% of Turkey’s agrifood exports.
But not only have there already been huge costs suffered, the UN is warning that more action needs to be taken now, to ensure the existing situation is not exacerbated by next year’s crops failing too.
FAO Subregional coordinator for Central Asia and representative in Turkey, Viorel Gutu, said: “The planting season deadline is approaching. We need to urgently support our farmers by providing fertilisers 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."
A farmer from Gaziantep, Mesut Ozer, echoed these concerns, and said now was a critical moment.
Ozer said: "Planting before the end of rainfall is our only chance to ensure a healthy crop for the coming year. Given the existing damage to our irrigation channels and agricultural infrastructure, we need fertilisers now before it's too late.”
The UN has already warned that feed scarcity and disrupted vaccine production is raising the risk of foot and mouth disease spreading among livestock.
Fish production, meanwhile, has also been compromised, with 34 fish farms and three fishing ports hit by the disaster. It has already caused the loss of key fish species.
More than a third of the population in the earthquake's affected areas rely on agriculture for their livelihood, and subsequent labour shortages have further halted agricultural activity across Turkey.
“Disrupted supply chains and financial challenges are exacerbating the struggle of rural families to access and afford productive inputs, leaving them unable to meet basic needs and support their families”, the UN said.
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