Lack of rainfall and high temperatures have taken a toll on the production of potatoes in the north and subsequent shortages in supply have led to soaring prices, Turkish Cypriot media reported on Tuesday.
Daily Yeni Duzen referred to a ‘potato crisis’. Due to soaring prices in the market and the low production of potatoes this year, it said, many producers started harvesting unripe potatoes to meet demand. Price however, the daily said, remain high.
It was reported last week that the price of potatoes in the north reached 25 Turkish lira (€4) per kilo.
Producers, according to reports, argue that potato production has dropped this year by 60 per cent due to high temperatures and diseases. A warm winter meant losses in the spring and autumn crops.
The price crisis, however, was not their fault, they said, but is stemming from the merchants. Producers said that merchants are buying potatoes cheaply from them and preserving them in cold storage until the desired price is offered. They called for measures for the potatoes to reach the consumers straight from producers.
‘Agriculture minister’ Erkut Sahali said in a post on social media that annual potato production is usually at around 16,000 tonnes but this year, due to lack of rainfall and the moderate winter season, the production has fallen to 6,000 tonnes.
The situation was similar to that in the south of the island, he said. Sahali added that efforts are underway to urgently import potatoes from Turkey or third countries.
Greek Cypriot potato producers too said in September that serious shortages in the supply of locally produced potatoes have led to soaring prices and to an increasing dependence on equally expensive imported produce.
The little supply that has been left for the Cyprus market, Greek Cypriot producers had said, was being sold at steep prices, while similarly overpriced potatoes imported from Greece, Egypt and Jordan are being sold to compensate for the lack of local produce.
They had said that the potato market is also largely supplied by farmers from northern Cyprus, but marked the huge shortage on the other side too.
Sahali said that, in accordance with the provisions of the Green Line Regulation, around 539 tonnes of potatoes produced by Turkish Cypriots were sold in the government-controlled areas so far this year.