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In the agriculture sector, the value of crop production is 57%, animal products 34%, forestry 6% and fisheries 3%.

By international standards, Turkey is a major producer of grain, cotton, tobacco, grapes, sunflower, pulses (chickpeas and lentils), dried fruit (hazelnuts, seedless raisins, figs, apricots), fresh fruits (apples and citrus), tomatoes, tea and small ruminants (sheep, goats).

Cereal production occupies 75% of Turkey's cropland. With a wheat production (21 million tons) and barley production (9 million tons) in 1999, Turkey is one of the world's biggest wheat and barley producers.

Besides cotton and tobacco, sugar beet is another important industrial crop (22 million tons in 1998).

Conditions in Turkey are favorable for livestock production. According to 1998 figures, there are 11 million big and 37.5 million small ruminants (29.5 million sheep, 8 million goats) in the country. Turkey also produced 756,000 tons of eggs and 486,000 tons of poultry meat in 1997.

Even though Turkey produces large quantities of cereals and has millions of cattle, productivity per unit area and per head of animal needs improvement. In 1998, average wheat yield in Turkey was 2234kg/ha., one-third of that in advanced countries (world average 2624 kg/ha).

In the same year, world average milk production per milk animal was 2028 kg, while in Turkey it was 1564 kg, one-fourth of the averages of advanced countries. These indicate the potential and the need for technology transfer and productivity improvement.

During the past decade, Turkey has emerged as a major exporter of agricultural products, both to the Middle East and other markets. Exports have tripled during this period, and were valued at more than $16 billion in 2013.

Out of the top 20 agricultural exporters, only India, China and Ukraine have higher export growth rates than Turkey during the past five years. This growth has continued into 2014, and exports during the first three-quarters of the year are up another five percent.

Turkish Agricultural Exports Diversify

While Turkey has traditionally been a significant supplier of fruit and vegetables, in recent years exports have diversified to include a wide range of products. Some key products which have seen strong growth include:

Sunflower Oil: Turkey is the world’s largest exporter of refined sunflower oil. The majority of these exports are first imported into Turkey as crude oil from Russia and Ukraine, and then refined inside and re-exported, mostly to Iraq and Syria.

Turkey’s tariffs on crude oil are considerably lower than the current 50-percent tariff on refined oil, which helps encourage further processing inside Turkey.

Tree Nuts: Turkey dominates world hazelnut trade and accounts for nearly 80 percent of global hazelnut exports. Nearly three-quarters of Turkish exports go to the European Union.

Raisins: Turkey remains the world’s largest exporter of raisins (followed by the United States), accounting for nearly one-third of total global trade. The lion’s share of these exports are to the EU-28.

Poultry: Turkish poultry exports have also been expanding in recent years (for more information see previous FAS report). In fact, Turkey is expected to be the world’s sixth-largest exporter in 2014. Almost all of these exports are shipped to other Middle East markets, especially Iraq.

Turkey has a comparative advantage over other suppliers as a result of its close proximity to these markets, its ability to supply halal product, and the fact that it supplies whole broilers, which many customer countries prefer.

Pasta: With the rapid expansion of its pasta exports, Turkey has become the world’s third-largest exporter of pasta after the EU-28 and China. Most of this pasta is going to Sub-Saharan Africa, where and Turkish pasta has largely replaced Italian pasta in many markets.

Flour: Turkish flour exports have surged, reaching almost $1 billion in 2013 and surpassing two million metric tons, making Turkey the world’s largest exporter of flour (see chart below).

While the majority of Turkish flour goes to Iraq and Syria, exports also go to Asian markets such as the Philippines and Indonesia, and exports have been rising to Sub-Saharan African markets.

In fact, flour exports to Sub-Saharan Africa have tripled in the last five years.