Keleş: Making peace with earth is making peace with life
Ahmet Keleş, Head of Tarım Orkam-Sen, said that the traditional mode of production should be readopted and that the only solution is to make peace with earth.
Ahmet Keleş, Head of the Union of Public Employees in Agriculture, Forest Environment and Livestock Service Branch (Tarım Orkam-Sen), stated that farmers in Turkey are migrating from the countryside to the cities as a result of the neoliberal policies of the government. He noted that these migrations lead to labour exploitation and social degeneration.
Keleş spoke to ANF about migration from villages to cities and the decrease in production as a result of the price hikes in fertilizer, diesel and electricity.
CONCRETION IN AGRICULTURAL AREAS
Keleş remarked that the migration of the producers from the countryside to the cities and the difficulties in consumers’ access to food are the outcomes of the neoliberal, capital-focused policies of the government. “When we look at the last 10 years, we see that 13.2 million hectares of land have remained unused. Only 500 thousand out of the approximately 4.5 million people registered with the chambers of agriculture can pay their debts. Farmers cannot pay their debts, which leads to a serious decline in production. The government has an ideological approach with regard to agricultural production. The government turns every piece of land into a concrete area, destroys the agricultural areas, and pursues a policy that promotes capital owners based on imports. As a result of these policies, which prompt migration from rural areas to urban centres, cheap labour becomes predominant. Turkey is currently introducing tenders to make the arid lands of Algeria suitable for agriculture. The Turkish government pours billions of dollars into these areas but turns its own agricultural land into concrete. Turkey has become the country that contributes the most to global warming with carbon emissions on its own soil. We all experience the consequences of these policies together. It has become much more difficult for citizens to have access to healthy food.”
NATIONALISM IS PROMOTED, PEOPLE GET POORER
Keleş pointed out that as a result of the capital-focused policies of nation states such as Turkey, ordinary citizens become poorer and capital owners make more money. Religious sentiments and nationalism are promoted as capital grows, unemployment rises, and hunger increases. Currently, the main cause of nationalism and the politicization of religion is the neoliberal policies of the government based on capital and cheap labour. On the one hand, the state glorifies ‘our nation, flag and land’, but on the other hand, it works with capital. We buy electricity very expensively because it reaches us through 17 different subcontractors. While citizens are at great pains to afford skyrocketing prices, capital owners make more money. Therefore, capital means the nation-state itself.”
TRADITIONAL MODE OF PRODUCTION MUST BE READOPTED
Keleş said that the Tarım Orkam-Sen would organize a workshop where they would discuss solution proposals. “The society should return to its traditional mode of production. We must realize that abandoning the countryside is tantamount to abandoning life itself, which leads to social degeneration. On May 28, we will organize a workshop in Mersin. As the next general elections are looming in Turkey, we would like to invite opposition political parties to our workshop which will focus on the migration of Kurdish people from villages to cities, the seasonal workers, their health and education conditions, and local governments. The only way to resolve this problem is to make peace with earth. Making peace with earth means making peace with life.”