Wildfires:  First damage reports are filed

It will take months to truly assess the economic damage the string of wildfires still in progress have caused Turkey, but first reports are being filed. Off the bat, hone production and banana plantations appear to have taken big hits, from which recovery might take years.


According to Daily Sabah, wildfires ravaging Turkey’s southern and western coastal regions, which firefighters have been struggling to contain due to strong winds, have already caused great damage to agricultural fields and farms. Now the production of olives, honey and many fruits and vegetables is at risk.


As of Tuesday, only 13 wildfires remain out of dozens as firefighters in six provinces have worked since last Wednesday to extinguish the blazes. The worst fires in terms of size and speed are in the Manavgat and Gündoğmuş districts of southern Antalya and in the Marmaris and Milas districts of southwestern Muğla.


Manavgat’s banana and vegetable greenhouses as well as its olive and citrus fields were damaged by the blazes. In Muğla, pine trees – from which the bees collect honeydew – were particularly damaged.


According to the preliminary assessment of the Agriculture and Forestry Ministry, the wildfires in the last five days left the honey production significantly at risk in Muğla since some 80% of the region, which is home to 45% of Turkey’s total bee breeding, was burned to ashes.


Mutlu Ayhan, chairperson of the Marmaris Chamber of Commerce, said that an area of 8,000-8,500 hectares had burned down.


“We were producing approximately 3,000 tons of 165,000 honeycombs every year. Marmaris is the capital of pine honey in the world … 80% of the production areas remained in ashes,” he said.


Turkey Beekeepers Center Union head Ziya Şahin said that there are 8.2 million bees throughout Turkey, and 3 million to 3.5 million of them come to Muğla every year to make pine honey. Stating that the bees feed on the secretions from the pine trees until March-April, Şahin said, “These trees were destroyed due to the fire. Only the pine trees in Muğla’s center and Fethiye district remained. There is a huge risk in pine honey production now. There will be a decrease in production.”


Firefighters on the ground and water bomber planes and helicopters above have been combatting the fires, while drone footage revealed a gray landscape nearby where fires had ravaged buildings and blackened tree trunks.



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In Antalya’s Manavgat, Nearly 700 decares of banana greenhouses, over 100 decares of vegetable greenhouses, over 15,000 decares of olive, laurel, carob and citrus fields were damaged, the preliminary assessments revealed.


More than 300 cattle, around 3,000 sheep and goats, nearly 4,000 poultry animals and some 400 beehives were destroyed in the fire. Meanwhile, Ali Çandar, chairperson of Antalya Commodity Exchange, said feed and straw aid has come from exchanges in various parts of the country to be delivered to the farmers.


“Upon our request, Uşak Commodity Exchange provided 10 tons of fodder. Karapınar Commodity Exchange sent 35 trucks of feed and straw to the region to deliver to our farmers. Balıkesir Commodity Exchange delivered one truck of feed, Ünye Commodity Exchange delivered one truck of feed, and Konya Commodity Exchange delivered two trucks of feed to the region.”


Agricultural Insurance Pool (TARSIM) also took action for the farmers and breeders whose businesses were damaged by the wildfires. A total of 431 damage reports were made to TARSIM. A total of 319 of these notifications were made for animal life insurance, 70 for greenhouse insurance and 44 for crop insurance branches. The total insured asset cost for the notified files is TL 85 million ($10.2 million).


The payment periods of social security premiums of workplaces and insurance holders in areas affected by forest fires will be extended and Turkey’s Small and Medium Industry Development Organization (KOSGEB) announced that they gave zero-interest support loans with a limit of TL 100,000 and TL 250,000 for the regions affected by the disaster.



Of course, these are anecdotal and cover only flow data. The damage to Turkey’s natural wealth is not yet estimated. In the short term, the biggest threat to GDP is tourists shunning Turkey on account of being caught  in an approaching forest fire.  Turkey’s tourism season reaches a peak in august, but stretches to October in the south. An estimated $10 bn is at stake.


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Published By: Atilla Yeşilada

GlobalSource Partners’ Turkey Country Analyst Atilla Yesilada is the country’s leading political analyst and commentator. He is known throughout the finance and political science world for his thorough and outspoken coverage of Turkey’s political and financial developments. In addition to his extensive writing schedule, he is often called upon to provide his political expertise on major radio and television channels. Based in Istanbul, Atilla is co-founder of the information platform Istanbul Analytics and is one of GlobalSource’s local partners in Turkey. In addition to his consulting work and speaking engagements throughout the US, Europe and the Middle East, he writes regular columns for Turkey’s leading financial websites VATAN and www.paraanaliz.com and has contributed to the financial daily Referans and the liberal daily Radikal.