TODAY’S – Gov’t energy plant move threatens Turkish role as olive exporter

Gov’t energy plant move threatens Turkish role as olive exporterThe anticipated construction of energy plants in some of Turkeyand#39s most important olive groves risks the loss of a valuable asset and a denting of the countryand#39s competitive power as a leading olive and olive oil exporter to the global market, sector representatives warn.A recent Cabinet decision to expropriate land in 15 provinces for energy projects will also mean the destruction of valuable olive groves, a major concern for producers in Turkeyand#39s strategically important olive industry.

Following the Cabinet decision in September, the government quickly began to expropriate land for hydroelectric plants and wind farm projects in order to expand electricity distribution capacity. Olive growers and exporters are warning that the expropriation includes some of Turkeyand#39s most productive olive groves and that this will deal a major blow to olive production, impacting the countryand#39s ability to compete with rivals in world olive markets.

Turkey is the worldand#39s fourth-largest olive and olive oil producer after Spain, Italy and Greece, contributing 10 percent of the olive and 6 percent of the olive oil production to the global market. Exporters had predicted annual exports of olives to reach $3.

8 billion by 2023, a target that is almost certain to be compromised following the decision to open olive groves to energy firms.According to head of Turkeyand#39s National Olive and Olive Oil Council (UZZK) Murat Narin, if the government maintains its decision to replace these olive groves with energy plants, Turkey might lose its seat at the UN-backed global body, the International Olive Council (IOC).

andldquoRecent government moves contradict basic IOC criteria, which include protecting olive groves. andhellip Losing the IOC seat would be a major setback and harm Turkeyand#39s image,andrdquo Narin asserts.

He said olive producers in Turkey have had to deal with six separate government proposals making changes to the laws regulating the olive industry since 2002, when the ruling party came to powerThe government predicted annual production would reach 650,000 tons for olive oil and 12 million tons for table olives in 2023.The government should immediately withdraw the expropriation decision according to zden Gungr, head of the Chamber of Agricultural Engineers (ZMO), who said in a written statement on Monday that the energy plants will also hurt the production capacity of nearby olive groves due to the air pollution the plants will create.

Underlining that the immediate expropriation of olive groves contradicts the law, zden warned that it will be a major challenge for Turkey to compensate for the anticipated loss in olive production.The Cabinet decision removed the designation that officially recognizes and protects olive groves that are smaller than 25 hectares, despite the fact that most olive groves in Turkey are less than half that size.

A European Union code considers plots larger than 1 hectare to be olive groves. The Cabinet also removed a limitation stipulating that renewable energy facilities must be built at least three kilometers away from olive groves.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman

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