Turkey may turn to Iran to solve potato misery

Following Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci’s announcement that certain food products may be imported in light of high domestic prices, speculation has arisen that Turkey may soon begin to purchase cheaper potatoes from its neighbor Iran.

Potatoes costing 50 kurui per kilo could be exported from Iran and sold in Turkish markets for TL 1.50, according to speculation. Meanwhile, potato prices have skyrocketed to as much as TL 5 kilo, more than tripling between the beginning of 2014 and the present.

Although Zeybekci had said potatoes were on the list of items that could be exported, he added that such a point had not yet been reached. “There are 4.5-5 million tons of potatoes available at the moment, and this number exceeds consumption,” he said earlier this week.

Zeybekci said food inflation of around 14 percent was due to speculators and he forecast that it would fall, but added that the government could take steps to reduce inflation including lifting import restrictions on certain food products. quotIf imports can be allowed … without disturbing domestic producers, these type of decisions can be made,quot he said. quot[But] we will not allow imports of wheat, barley, meat or processed foods, and we will not need [them] anyway. This year’s wheat yield will be at least 5 million tons above our need.quot

Last month’s inflation rate was released by the Turkish Statistics Institute (TurkStat) earlier this week, with a disappointing figure of 7.9 percent year-on-year that exceeded expectations.

Disclosing its assessments of developments in April’s consumer price index (CPI) on Tuesday, the central bank pointed to bad weather as the main reason for high food inflation and said: “The incidents of heavy precipitation, flood and frost especially took a toll on the supply of certain vegetables growing both in greenhouses and fields in this period. hellip The upward trend in the price of potatoes gained strength in this period, and prices rose 80 percent during the first four months of this year.”