The only way the farmers will survive in a capitalist economy these days is by borrowing. And that borrowing is as good as suicide in a dependent economy already in crisis. There is nobody who understands this better than the farmers of Amasya region in Turkey.
The farmers who belong to an Agriculture Credit Cooperative get credits from the same organization to be able to produce. However, after they borrowed this year, suddenly the fees and interest rates jumped to an unprecedented level. The cooperatives are only reflecting the uncertainty and chaos of the country’s economy in general.
As reported by Indigodergisi, Furkan Türkmen, a member, borrowed 12,500 TL to run his ranch and produce this year. However, he was hit with a 6,500 TL “membership” fee. His interest started accumulating on 20,000TL debt. The 12,500 he borrowed 10 months ago suddenly jumped to 38,000 TL with interest and fees.
Osman Yüce, a representative in the National Assembly who brought this issue to the Assembly floor, said the Cooperatives do not give the borrowing farmers the cash amount. Instead, they provide the necessary equipment and charge the amount spent on the equipment to the farmer’s account. While doing so they tack on a membership fee and add a bank interest fee. They double the amount the farmer agreed for borrowing.
This is exactly what happened in Amasya. When the farmers were unable to pay the unacceptable rates and fees, the cooperative brought in the army to force the payments and confiscate the farmers’ property. Today, with the help of soldiers and the Turkish army, the cooperatives who also borrow from the banks are chasing the farmers and grabbing their trucks, tractors and whatever they cvould get their hands on owned by the farmers.
In one small village 19 farm equipment and trucks were confiscated. This comes at a time when the Turkish government is organizing no audience, closed concerts for musicians who are close to the government and throws millions of TL in their way. In return, these bought artists provide propaganda for the government. The farmers ask why they have not seen any government help to save their farming equipment when only those who show loyalty to the government get paid for even non-essential services. Turkey, once an agricultural exporter is currently importing the produce it used to export under Erdoğan’s one-man rule.
Holding a rally, the farmers voiced these concerns and carried banners that read, “Sell the cooperative and pay for the debt.”
Ömer Sarı, another farmer whose equipment have been confiscated said the farmers had been selling their products below cost for the last 3 or 4 years. He asked the government to reduce the cost of seeds, fertilizers, and needed equipment.
The confiscations and rallies present an interesting crisis because Amasya was one of the strongholds that Erdoğan enjoyed in the elections. The very same farmers who thought the neo-liberal measures and business first policies of the current president are now surprised that the entire economy of Turkey has collapsed and they ended up holding the bag.
Sendika.org News (Mehmet Bayram)