With the PKK terrorist group's threats minimized, villages in eastern Turkey return to peaceful days. Across the vast lands, vineyards flourish and locals regain a steady income by growing grapes with state support.
Four villages near the Genç district of Bingöl where agricultural activities have been absent for years due to security risks, enjoy the restoration of calm. Along an area of hundreds of acres, they grow grapes in the territories they abandoned amid the PKK’s campaign of terrorism. Security forces drove out, captured or killed members of the terrorist group after lengthy operations.
Nowadays, fertile lands are bustling with villagers benefiting from state-funded incentives. The local Directorate of Agriculture and Forestry gives a helping hand to growers unaccustomed to agricultural practices and recently, they were trained in vineyard growing through a comprehensive training program in Erzincan province. Among the growers are families who were forced to leave their villages decades ago for fear of terrorist attacks and only recently returned to start new lives there.
Grapes constitute a major income for villagers with few other options to make a living, Along with sale of fresh grapes, they profit from sales of unfermented grape juice, dried fruit rollups and molasses. Burhan Bahadır, head of the directorate, told Anadolu Agency (AA) that they sought to boost the income of locals and started training them in the maintenance of vineyards.
“Twenty-three farmers were trained on the trellising system for better profitability. This system allows them to use less labor and spend less on the care of vineyards. Vineyards are now able to produce one ton of grapes a year thanks to trellising,” Bahadır said.
“This is an area with a high rate of reverse migration after acts of terrorism ended and in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. We are trying to guide our farmers and provide them with incentives,” he told Anadolu Agency (AA) Monday.
Mehmet Baysal returned to his village, Servi, three decades after leaving it. The farmer started raising grapes some two years ago and said training by the Directorate of Agriculture helped him grow more grapes.