The annual rate of inflation surged to 25 percent in September — the highest in 15 years — while the Turkish lira has lost nearly 40 percent of its value. A typical bag of onions costing the equivalent of 50 cents in Izmir last month now costs $1, Sol Haber reported, and is on course to sell as much as $2 by the end of the year.
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However, Erdogan has largely resisted pressure to raise interest rates, hoping instead for continued growth driven by government-sponsored grand construction projects such as highways, bridges, mosques and a glittering new airport for Istanbul.
In another break with economic convention, Finance Minister Berat Albayrak has ordered inspectors to search Turkey’s agricultural areas to stop wholesalers hoarding produce to force up prices.
The discovery was reported extensively by government-aligned media outlets, but was met with derision on social media where many mocked the onion hunt as a pointless distraction from the country’s economic crisis.
“Free the onions!” wrote economist Alaattin Aktas, who pointed out that the cooking staple only accounted for 0.221 percent of Turkey’s official consumer price inflation.
“We used to read news about guns or heroin. Now we are uncovering vegetables,” said another.
“After harvest, an onion must be put in storage,” reporter Ali Ekber Yıldırım wrote. “If it is not, there is a problem,” he said, because the produce will rot. “When will this country’s ignorance about agriculture end?”