‘Calling out to my nation’: Erdogan urges farmers to grow hemp

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Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has called on farmers to begin growing more hemp in the country.

“I am calling out to my nation; let’s start the process to cultivate industrial hemp. We will see that industrial hemp has many different benefits in many different areas,” Erdoğan said at a meeting of BMC, a privately owned Turkish-Qatari armored vehicles manufacturer. *

Permitting is afoot

Erdogan said the Agriculture and Forestry Ministry and the Environment and Urbanization Ministry departments have already held talks on the matter. His statement comes days after Agriculture and Forestry Minister Bekir Pakdemirli first revealed new permits were going to be issued.

Currently, hemp cultivation under strict regulations is allowed in 19 regions of Turkey. However, it was a major crop during the Ottoman era and was grown extensively in the provinces of Samsun, Sinop, Kastamonu, Amasya, Çorum, Tokat, Yozgat, Ordu, Burdu, Urfa and Malatya. Aside from being used by the Ottoman Navy, hemp was also used by individuals at home for fabric, twine, rope, and sacks.

Turning point

In more modern times regions such as Kastmonu were cultivating hemp from the 1940’s until around 2002 when they replaced it with garlic and sugar beet. Historically, farmers in the region grew hemp for the local paper factory which manufactured fibers and cigarette papers. However, this hemp was been replaced by imported cellulose.

Associate professor Selim Aytaç of the Field Crops Department at Samsun Ondokuz Mayıs University’s Faculty of Agriculture, said Erdoğan’s statement was a turning point. Aytaç has been working on hemp for years and believes the president’s statement will help eliminate the bad perception of the plant.

Work on genotypes

“We will apply to the Agriculture Ministry this month for the registration of two of the genotypes we have obtained through the selection method from approximately five years of work,” Aytaç told Turkish media.

Elsewhere, Kırklareli Gov. Osman Bilgin told local media his region is eager to start utilizing hemp as it’s not currently legal in the region. “Two-and-a-half million cannabis plants grow on their own in our city. We’re not going to burn them any longer,” Bilgin said. “We’ll use them to contribute to our economy.”

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