Dear farmers of the world;
On February 1, 2020, Çiftçi-Sen organized a conference in which delegates from the member unions participated.
In this conference, transformation of agricultural structure in Turkey since the formation of the unions were evaluated. The challenges in front of and solutions for organizing were discussed.
Inevitably, the agriculture was affected by the liberal policies beginning from January 24, 1980. The policies made from that moment was in favor of the agribusiness; was against the small farmers.
Demands from Turkey was clear: limiting the scope of agricultural subsidies; decrease in input subsidies; promotion of foreign trade; removing the flat price practice; privatizing state-owned agricultural enterprises; disabling Industrial Development Banks of Turkey (TSKB); enhancing agricultural credit rates; privatizing the watering systems.
In 1999 and 2001, the “Agricultural Reform” and “Agricultural Transformation” programs designed by World Bank and IMF had begun to implemented. It was the beginning of a new period where the attacks against farmers would increase.
In this period, from 2001 to 2003, farmer congresses were held in dense production areas. In order to participate in Producer Congress of Turkey, delegates from the each farmer congress met in Ankara on December 13, 2003. In this congress, it was identified that for each crop producers have their unique problems and the attacks were differentiated. Thus, it was decided to organize in crop-based unions [syndicates] in order to fight against the impositions of IMF and the WB.
The delegates back in their regions, tried to form their crop-based unions by mobilizing from one village to another. In this conjuncture, the first unions were organized in the crops such as tobacco, grape, tea, hazelnut, olive, sunflower and cereals, the industrial crops that would firstly affected by the imposed agricultural policies where the state was removed from decision making. While organizing at the base level, at the same time was the fight against the sue aiming to close the unions. In order to join the fight and form a common struggle, with the decision by the each crop-based union, the Confederation of Small Farmers Unions (Çiftçi-Sen) was formed in May 24, 2008. Despite the legal fights, organizing processes, and actions, the demands of IMF and WB were implemented by the governments step by step. This elbowed the state from the agriculture. Today, new decision have been taken in order to remove the last obstacles for building corporate food system. Through contract farming, small farmers are becoming depended to agribusiness. Corporatization is imposed on farmers and farmers are imposed to form cooperatives in the logic of corporates. In the last Agriculture Council organized by the government, it was announced that cooperatives promoting contract farming will not be taxed, and the law on cooperatives will be changed. Organized Agriculture Specialization Regions have been formed. Through mining, energy and construction companies, rural areas are being destroyed.
Our Conference have decided that, due to the destruction and agribusiness taking control of Turkish agriculture, it is a necessity to build up Peoples Food System vis-a-vis corporate food system, which is building up a struggle based on food sovereignty, and accommodating the organization for this purpose. By unanimous vote, all the crop-based unions will be reorganized in one union, namely Çiftçi-Sen, and farmers will have crop-based platforms within this union. From now on, it is possible have an organization that will have members from farmers independent of their crops, farmers who do peasant agroecology, and as well from artisanal fisherfolk and pastoralists.
Due to the decision made in our Conference, Farmers Union
(Çiftçi-Sen) is formed in February 21, 2020.
GENERAL EXECUTIVE BOARD
ÇİFTÇİ-SENGENERAL EXECUTIVE BOARD
Ali Bülent ERDEM President
Ayşe Berin ERTÜRK Secretary General
Adnan ÇOBANOĞLUSecretary of Organization
Bahri ÖNER Secretary of Finance
Kutsi YAŞAR Member of General Executive Board
Esat YILDIZ Member of General Executive Board
Hasan Cengiz YAZAR Member of General Executive Board
Mehmet Ali YETİM Member of General Executive Board Müfit ÇIKRIKÇIOĞLU Member of General Executive Board