Shepherds prepare for winter in difficult conditions

The shepherds in Hakkari are preparing for the upcoming winter. They are more dependent than ever on collecting hay and fresh greenery as fodder for their animals, as feed prices continue to skyrocket.

The villagers in the Kurdish province of Hakkari are preparing for winter. Due to the mountainous and rugged landscape in Hakkari, there is hardly any agriculture in the province, but a lot of cattle breeding. The province with its springs, fresh air, clear water and diverse vegetation is ideal for herding animals. The winter preparations are particularly difficult for the cattle breeders, as the purchase of feed is practically impossible due to the high prices.

In an interview with ANF, herdsman Rahmi Çiftçi speaks about his working conditions. The 45-year-old shepherd says that he learned the profession from his grandfather and has been living from animal husbandry for years. In his village of Xenanisa Jêr (Otluca), many people live from livestock farming. To feed the animals in winter, they mow the pastures in the summer months and store the hay.

However, hundreds of mountain pastures and rangelands in Hakkari have been declared restricted areas by the military. Even for the few pastures that are not military restricted areas, herders need special permits from the governor's office. Only the villagers who raise cattle have a chance of being allowed onto the pastures. They then bring the mown grass to the villages with their horses at the end of the summer.

Çiftçi says, "There is almost no work in Hakkari except cattle raising. There is very little arable land. Especially in our village and the surrounding villages, we collect the grass and bring it to the village. We have to bring in as much as we can, because we are not able to buy additional food for the animals."

This is in particular due to the rising prices, says the shepherd and continues: "In the past, everyone was a cattle farmer. There were hundreds of animals in front of every house. Nobody had to buy grass or hay from outside. Now, because of the economic crisis and other reasons, cattle raising is no longer profitable. Most people have given it up. We try to collect the hay in order not to suffer even greater damage."