Turkey to import onions, potatoes, in effort to curb skyrocketing prices

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The government is set to allow potato and onion imports in limited amounts from designated countries in an effort to curb prices, which have recently skyrocketed, the Hürriyet Daily News reported.

The dramatic rise in basic food products including potatoes, onions and milk has sparked public debate on social media and drawn criticism from opposition parties.

Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci said the government was closely following sharp increases in various food products.

“We will take measures to prevent dramatic price increases in some food products, including onions. We will allow onion and potato imports from designated countries in limited amounts,” Zeybekci said in a TV interview on Thursday.

In Istanbul, the cost of one kilogram of onions rose 212 percent to TL 6.5 ($1.4) over the past month. One kilo of onions sold for around TL 1.3 last June. Potato prices also rose to TL 6 ($1.3) in June, a 94 percent month-on-month increase. One kilo of potatoes sold for TL 1.5 a year ago.

There have also been sharp increases in almost all milk products, with butter seeing the highest hike.

The price rises come amid persistently high consumer inflation and the declining value of the Turkish lira, with social media users joking that “the onion exchange rate is now even higher than the dollar exchange rate.”

Muharrem İnce, the presidential candidate of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), voiced criticism on Thursday.

“For the first time, one kilo of onions costs more than one dollar in Turkey. There is a big problem in the economy if this is happening,” İnce said ahead of a meeting with the board members of the country’s top business organization, the Turkish Industrialists and Businessmen’s Association (TÜSİAD), in Istanbul.

He added that the Turkish economy was fragile, saying upholding the rule of law and democratic principles is a prerequisite to resolving economic troubles.

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