Agriculture, which affects approx. 24% of the active population and only 8.6% participates in the formation of national income (2007), has very different characteristics from region to region. There are areas, especially in central and eastern Anatolia, where the backwardness of the production systems, the fragmentation of the property and the unfavorable environmental conditions allow only an economy of pure subsistence or self-consumption. These are the areas in which the rural exodus has manifested itself in a particularly massive way. In the richer and more irrigable areas, which broadly coincide with the coastal regions, industrial crops have instead expanded, often managed by consortia and cooperatives that are modernly organized and specialized in relation to the export of products. All in all, arable land and arborescent crops cover 34.6% of the territory; different climatic conditions (temperate, Mediterranean and subtropical) allow a wide range of crops. Generally speaking, there are four fundamental agricultural regions: the interior of Anatolia, where cereal cultivation prevails; the southern slope, the warmest, where cotton cultivation is flourishing; the Aegean side, open to western influences and whose crops are those typical of the Mediterranean civilization, such as vines, olives, citrus fruits and figs; finally, the slope overlooking the Black Sea, less favored as it is exposed to the north (it is instead covered by luxuriant forests), where the cultivation of tobacco is widespread. Cereals still represent the dominant crop, although their importance has decreased compared to the past; in parallel with the emergence of more profitable crops.
According to computergees, a more rational use of mechanization and the use of selected seeds and fertilizers has increased the productivity of the land; however, harvests are still linked to cyclical weather conditions and can vary from year to year, making food imports necessary. Wheat clearly prevails, affecting approx. 9.4 million ha, almost 40% of the entire arable land. Barley is also widely used, widely used for feeding livestock; followed by maize, present mainly in the Black Sea region, rye, oats and rice. There are many horticultural crops aimed at self-consumption; prevailing potatoes, tomatoes, onions, cabbages, then beans, peas, chickpeas, lentils, broad beans, which feed large canning industries. Since 1998 the production quotas of other plants have increased strongly such as: watermelons, melons, peppers, mostly destined for export. Turkey holds the world record in the production of hazelnuts. Another very important agricultural sector is that of woody crops, peculiar – as mentioned – of the Mediterranean environment, the Aegean and the Sea of Marmara: the vine prevails, which provides good quantities of grapes, widely used for the production of raisins (with a prevalence of the sultana and zibibbo qualities) and the olive tree, considered native to Asia Minor; citrus crops are also conspicuous, species of oranges and lemons (3 million q). All fruit growing in general plays an important role, with abundant harvests of apples, pears, plums, peaches, apricots, mandarins, almonds, hazelnuts and figs, the latter mostly dried and exported all over the world. Industrial crops have considerable importance in the country’s economy, especially for exports. The first place is occupied by cotton, for which Turkey holds a prominent position worldwide, which makes use of significant state interventions and is cultivated in the warm Mediterranean coastal plains, especially around Adana. The other industrial plants are largely used instead for the national oil production (sesame, soybean, rapeseed, peanuts and especially sunflower).
Flax and hemp provide seeds and fiber. Tobacco is also an important and traditional agricultural product, which instead has its best area on the Pontus side, although it is also widespread on the Aegean (Smyrna region), and whose production is largely exported. Sugar beet production is growing: the plant, introduced in the country relatively recently, has good areas of diffusion in the western section of the plateau (Eskisehir and Usak). Other crops include that of roses with distillation plants in Isparta, that of tea on the Black Sea coast and that of opium, grown in the Anatolian interior under government control (especially in the areas of Amasya, Afyonkarahisar, Kütahyaand Malatya: various international disputes have arisen regarding the cultivation of opium poppy, as several countries asked for the suppression of this crop, as part of the fight against the spread of the drug. As for forest resources, they have been relentlessly exploited for centuries and, once impoverished, have long been neglected. Today forests and woods, largely state-owned, are the object of more careful attention by the government which has provided for the reforestation of large areas, so that the forest cover now covers 26.9% of the territory. The most forested region is that of Pontus. Overall timber production is progressively increasing. Livestock farming has always been an economic factor of considerable proportions. This activity still plays a considerable role and finds favorable conditions in a largely steppe country. The plateau is always invaded by numerous flocks of sheep and goats, although nomadism, once widespread throughout Anatolia, and especially in the inner areas (the degradation of the soils of the plateau is due to it), is almost everywhere disappeared. Today, more than nomadism, we can speak of summer transhumance towards the fertile valleys of the coastal mountainous areas. The prevalent breeding is that of sheep, goats (including the Angora goats, which provide the highly prized mohair) and cattle. The number of donkeys, horses and mules, once widely used as means of transport, is decreasing; however, there was a great increase in the breeding of poultry. In the’ Silkworm breeding is traditionally widespread in Western Anatolia and Thrace. Fishing is practiced with commercial criteria especially in the Bosphorus and in the Sea of Marmara, also in function of the large market of İstanbul; elsewhere it has less economic importance and generally uses rather old-fashioned equipment.