Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) on Sept. 18 kicked off a march from the Black Sea province of Ordu to the neighboring Giresun in a bid to protest the purchase price for hazelnuts in the new season, which had been announced as 10 Turkish Liras.
Around 3,000 people gathered in front of the Ordu Municipality ahead of the three-day march with the motto “We are marching for hazelnut,” with the participation of CHP deputy head and Ordu deputy Seyit Tosun, CHP group deputy leader Özgür Özel, Giresun Mayor Kerim Aksu as well as other party figures and hazelnut producers.
Speaking to reporters ahead of the 47-kilometer march to Giresun, Tosun said hazelnut producers were the victims of low prices, which had been announced by the agriculture minister with the cost of 8.75 liras, and they had to sell their hazelnuts starting from 7.5 liras.
“Our producers cannot get their money’s worth. Unfortunately, they cannot even clear their debts right now with the product, to which they put efforts for a year, and they cannot send their children to schools,” Tosun said, expressing his anticipation that producers would eventually lay claim over their products despite pressure and silencing by the authorities.
He added that party leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu would also join the final day of the march and later hold a rally in Giresun on Sept. 20.
Özel, meanwhile, noted that the problems of hazelnut producers began being echoed through the government sides when they addressed those problems loudly.
He said the party and politics in the country had a responsibility to stand with those who had problems without making any discrimination.
Food, Agriculture, and Livestock Minister Ahmet Eşref Fakıbaba had earlier announced that the Turkish Grain Board (TMO) would purchase the Giresun-quality hazelnut – fat hazelnuts grown in the province – for 10.5 liras and the Levant-quality – all hazelnuts grown in regions other than Giresun- for 10 liras.
The purchase price for the product fell some 5 liras short from what the producers had expected.
But the minister had also vowed to purchase all the products left in the hands of hazelnut producers.
He had stated that the authority had already purchased hazelnuts from producers worth 40 million liras and they would make their payments on Sept. 19.
“They [producers] should not bother with those who want to provoke them. They should not waste their energy by marching. There is no need to panic,” Fakıbaba had said.
The main opposition’s march for hazelnut prices is reminiscent of a previous initiation back in June when Kılıçdaroğlu marched from the capital Ankara to Istanbul, dubbed “justice march,” over the course of 25 days in protest at the current state of justice in the country following the arrest of party deputy Enis Berberoğlu.
As the world’s biggest hazelnut supplier, Turkey accounts for approximately 75 percent of worldwide hazelnut production.