Economy of Izmir and Agriculture in Izmir

Brief Information about İzmir’s Position in Türkiye and the Aegean Region[1]

Population and Demographic Structure:

İzmir is the third biggest city in terms of density of population in Türkiye. Population of İzmir which was approximately 530 thousand in 1927 rose above 4 million as of 2014. İzmir constitutes 5,3% of the population of Türkiye and 41% of that of the Aegean Region with this size of population. Percentage of men and women is almost equal in the distribution of population. Percentage of the population engaged in agriculture is 15% within the total population in İzmir.

When one considers the distribution of population, percentage of those living in urban areas is 91% while that of those living in rural areas is 9 percent. Density of population is 333 people per square kilometer. The biggest towns in terms of the number of inhabitants are Karabaglar, Buca, Bornova, Konak, Karşıyaka and Bayraklı respectively. The smallest town in terms of the number of inhabitants is Karaburun. Bergama is the largest town in terms of area while the smallest one is Balcova in these terms. Number of townships in İzmir is 30 and the number of municipalities excluding the metropolitan municipality is 53 and that of villages is 597.

Status of Employment:

Number of those above 15 years of age who are employed is approximately 26 million in our country. Percentage of those who are employed in the agricultural sector is 24% in total employment. Those who are employed in İzmir is 1,5 million and the share it received from Türkiye’s overall employment is 6,3 percent. Number of those who are employed in the agricultural sector is approximately 150 thousand and this number may vary by the seasonal employees.

Geopolitical and Geographical Position and Climate:

İzmir is located in the west of Türkiye and in the midway on the coastline of the Aegean Region. It is surrounded by the province of Balıkesir in the north, province of Manisa in the east and province of Aydın in the south. Length of our province in the north-south direction is approximately 200 km and its width in the east-west direction is 180 km. Its area is 12.012 km2 excluding lakes.

Located in the Mediterranean-Black Sea passage in terms of its geopolitical position and being capable of opening up to the Balkans, Europe and to the Middle East through Anatolia, İzmir has a particular importance and advantage in terms of logistics.

There are active five ports in İzmir, namely Alsancak, Dikili, Aliağa, Çandarlı and Çeşme. Besides, the existence of an international airport and its proximity to such centres as Manisa, Denizli, Aydın, Muğla, Bursa, Uşak and Kütahya, where the agricultural production, industry and mine processing capacities is higher, make İzmir more and more important in terms of the logistics sector.

İzmir has a huge and dynamic tourism potential thanks to its geographical position, diversity of its historical and cultural resources, its geographical features and its infrastructure for tourism.

Typical Mediterranean climate prevails in the province of İzmir. Summers are hot and dry and winters mild and rainy. Weather temperature shall never be below zero degrees Celcius for more than 10 days per year. A temperature above 30 degrees Celcius is experienced for approximately hundred days per year. Snowfall and frost are hardly seen. Annual precipitation quantity is between 700–1.200 mm. In summer months, a light wind called “İmbat” (a kind of breeze) brings coolness. This breeze which is caused by the difference of the land and sea temperatures by day and night is only specific to this province. Annual average sea water temperature is 18,5 °C.

The fact that mountains lie perpendicular to the sea and that plains penetrate as far as the Inner Western Anatolia threshold makes it possible for marine effects to spread over the inland areas. However, physical geographical differences such as altitude and distance from the coast further cause climatic differences which may be deemed significant in terms of precipitation, temperature and insolation.

İzmir is under the effect of the Mediterranean climate in terms of vegetation. Any types of Mediterranean plants are available here. In those places where forests have been removed due to such reasons as overgrazing, fires and land clearing for many centuries, maquis flora appears. Maquis areas rise up to an altitude of 600 meters above the sea level. A large part of the mountainous areas is forested. Area covered by forests occupies 41% of the provincial terrain. There are Turkish red pine (pinus brutia) forests up to an altitude of 600 m above the sea level and black pine (pinus nigra) forests above this altitude.

There are indigenous stone pine (pinus pinea) forests in the vicinity of Kozak village in Bergama, Guner village in Cumaovası and Helvacı village in Torbalı. Such broad-leaved trees as sycamore, chestnut, ash tree, willow, poplar, maple, elm and cornelian cherry spread in the secluded and damp river beds with favourable soil. Valonia oak is also one of the characteristic trees of the forests in our province.

Socio-Economic Status:

Province of İzmir is above the average in terms of urbanisation percentage, literacy percentage, gross domestic product per capita and ratio of those employed in industry to the overall employment in Türkiye. Ratio of those employed in the agricultural sector to the overall employment is below the average in Türkiye.

Industry-university cooperation network has developed in İzmir. There are four State-owned universities and 5 foundation universities in our province. Of the State-owned universities, the Ege University was founded in 1955, Dokuz Eylül University in 1981, İzmir Institute of Technology in 1992 and İzmir Katip Çelebi University in 2011. Of the private universities, İzmir University of Economy was founded in 2001, Yaşar University in 2001, Gediz University in 2008, University of İzmir in 2007 and Şifa University in 2010.

İzmir’s economy is comprised of industries, commerce, transportation-communications and agricultural activities to a great extent. Oil and chemical products, metal, textile, machinery, food, tobacco and soil-based industries stand out in İzmir’s industry. Foodstuff, commerce, construction, textile/ready-made clothing, wood-furniture, chemical-plastic and agricultural products trading are widely observed in İzmir’s commercial life. In agriculture and animal husbandry, production of cotton, grape, olive, fig, tobacco, vegetables and fruits, fish and animal by-products occupy the top places.

Six point one percent of Turkish exports and almost half of those of the Aegean Region were accomplished from İzmir in 2013. Particularly, trading of food products, building materials, textile products, wood products and furniture, chemical products provides İzmir’s commerce some acceleration. İzmir Commodity Exchange, which is the oldest and most dynamic commodity exchange of Türkiye and in which agricultural and food products are traded, is also located in our province. 

Distribution and quantity of especially geothermal power resources is of high percentages in İzmir, which has quite abundant assets in terms of industrial raw materials which constitute the basic inputs of our country’s industry. Geothermal resources provide entrepreneurs with an opportunity to operate greenhouses heated by geothermal power in the province and in the region.

Agricultural Sector in İzmir’s Economic Structure:

Share of agricultural sector in İzmir’s economy is relatively lower as compared to the other sectors. Share of agriculture in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) also displays some reduction by years in the province of İzmir as well as in Türkiye in general. İzmir alone constitutes approximately 50% of the GDP of the Aegean region and 7% of that of Türkiye.[2]

When it is examined in terms of Gross Value Added (GVA), the Aegean Region made a contribution of added value of 13,7% to the national economy in 2011. In the same year, İzmir’s share in the Aegean Region’s GVA was 48,3% while it was 6,6% in Türkiye’s total GVA. According to these results, İzmir occupies the third place next to İstanbul and Ankara in terms of the added value created. Of the total GVA generated in İzmir in 2011, 67,7% was achieved by the industry, 26,9% by the service and 5,4% in the agricultural sectors. Seven percent of the industrial GVA achieved in our country, 6,5% of the service sector GVA and 4% of the agricultural sector GVA was achieved in İzmir.

In İzmir, agricultural sector made a contribution of 4% to the total agricultural GVA and a contribution of 22,2% to the Aegean Region’s agricultural GVA in 2011. Aegean Region has a share of 18% in the total agricultural GVA of Türkiye. The fact that the agricultural production capacity of the Aegean Region is high also makes some contribution to the fact that İzmir, which is the exports centre of the region further becomes an agricultural trading and exporting centre.

Structure of agricultural businesses:

The general structure of agricultural businesses is unfortunately small-sized family businesses at the brink of subsistence and semi-subsistence. While the average size of an agricultural business is 61 decares in our country, this average is 167 decares in the EU and is 2,7 times higher than Türkiye’s average. And this value is lower than Türkiye’s average and is 37 decares in İzmir.

Land Assets:

İzmir has an agricultural land of 342 thousand hectares which is 28% percent of its area. Half of the areas of the townships of Aliağa, Bayındır, Selçuk and Torbalı and approximately 30% of the areas of the other townships is agricultural land. In the distribution of land, a share of 28,3% is covered by agricultural areas, 40,6% by forested and wooded areas, 4,2% by meadows and pastures and the remaining 26,9% by other areas.

Total irrigable agricultural land is 280 thousand hectares in İzmir and this constitutes 82% of the total agricultural area. Irrigated area corresponds to 53% of the total agricultural area and only 64% of the irrigable agricultural land may be irrigated. Irrigated agricultural land is 180 thousand hectares throughout the province, and of this, 44% comprises of the agricultural land irrigated by the governmental facilities and 56% by the growers’ own facilities.

Agricultural Production Value:

Agricultural production value displays an increase year by year in our country. Vegetative production, livestock and animal products made a contribution of approximately 87,8 billion TRL, 63,5 billion TRL and 49,3 billion TRL in the total agricultural production value which exceeded 200 billion TRL in 2013.

Province of İzmir has made a total contribution of 3,5% to the total agricultural production value of our country. Also proportionately, it has made a contribution of 4,5% to the vegetative production value, 3,8% to the livestock value and 1,3% to the animal products value. When the shares of those product groups comprising the total agricultural production are examined, a reduction is observed in the share of vegetative production but an increase in that of animal production.

When the change in the past decade is examined, it is found out that the total vegetative production value which had a share of 65% within the total agricultural production in 2004 relatively decreased over years and reduced to 48% in 2013. As it will be seen in Table 1, vegetable, fruit and ornamental plants production proportionally decreased. Animal production value increased as compared to the vegetative production value. While the animal production value had a share of 31% in 2004, it increased to 47% in 2013. Meat and milk production has a significant share in this increase. There was an increase to 4,8% in 2013 in the sea food group of which share in the total agricultural production value was 3,6% in 2004.

Vegetative Production in İzmir:

İzmir occupied the third place next to Antalya and Mersin with 4 billion TRL in terms of vegetative production value in 2012. With this value, İzmir represents 4,63% of the total vegetative production of Türkiye.

Corn, potato, cotton and wheat of field plants; tangerine, olive, grape, cherry, fig and chestnut of fruits; tomato, watermelon, pepper, melon, cucumber, spinach, leek and cauliflower of vegetables are those products grown most in the province respectively.


Animal Husbandry Sector in İzmir:

According to the 2012 official records, there are approximately 14 million cattle and 35 million sheep and goats available in our country. İzmir represented approximately 3,4% of bovine assets and approximately 2% of ovine assets in our country. In terms of livestock value, İzmir occupies the third place next to Konya and Balıkesir with 2,5 billion TRL. With this value, İzmir represents a portion of 3,81% of the total livestock assets of Türkiye. Total value of animal products happened to be 665 million TRL in 2012. İzmir occupies the fourth place in Türkiye in general with a share of 1,35% in the total animal production value of Türkiye. Our province has 492 thousand cattle, 514 thousand sheep and 223 thousand goats as of 2013.

Greenhouse Agricultural Area:

Within the total area of 617,7 decares greenhouse area in our country, İzmir has a share of 2,2% in total with 13,6 thousand decares. Menderes, Bergama, Balçova and Bayındır are the townships where greenhousing is the most intensive in our province respectively. The most important greenhouse products are cucumber, tomato and lettuce.

Organic Production:

Approximately 55 thousand organic crop growers grow an average of 1750 tons of organic crops in a total area of 703 thousand decares in our country. İzmir’ has a share of 3,28% in the organic agricultural production of Türkiye.

Foreign Trading:

As it will be found out in Table 3, total exports of our company happened to be 151,8 billion US dollars by 2013 figures, and agriculture and related food sector made a contribution of 17 billion US dollars to the total. The highest share in the agricultural and food products which represent 11,2% of the total belongs to food products and beverages. Total imports reached 251,6 billion US dollars and agricultural and food products made a contribution of 13,3 billion US dollars, i.e. 5,3%, in overall imports.

9,3 billion US dollars which is a portion of 6,1% of the exports of 151,8 billion US dollars achieved in our country in 2013 was achieved from our province. Approximately 24% of the total exports achieved from İzmir consists of agricultural and food products.

Seven percent of the imports of 251,6 billion US dollars that occurred in our country in 2013 occurred via İzmir. Twelve comma four percent of the total imports of İzmir with a value of 10,6 billion US dollars consisted of agricultural and food products.

Cooperative Structure:

There are a total of 310 cooperatives operating for agricultural purposes, consisting of 163 agricultural development cooperatives, 100 irrigation cooperatives and 47 sea food cooperatives in İzmir. Number of the members of these cooperatives is approximately 41.160. Within the growers’ associations which are another type of organisation, there are 26 associations and 2.746 members on the basis of various productions..

Geographical Indications:

Geographical indications which are an important issue in especially developed countries in the world are now an issue which is well known and important in our country as well. Number of registered geographical indications is increasing from day to day. Number of geographical indications registered by the Turkish Patent Institute is 178 and that of those geographical indications for which applications have been already filed is 214. From our province, the geographical indications have been registered for Aegean Sultani Grape, Aegean Cotton and Aegean Fig under the leadership of the İzmir Commodity Exchange. Other geographical indications registered are Ödemiş Potato and Bergama Kozak Pine Nut. Geographical indication applications have been also filed for İzmir Boyoz, İzmir Gevrek, İzmir Lokma, İzmir Şambali, İzmir Tulum Cheese, İzmir Kumru Bread and Turkish Coffee in İzmir, in which there is a diversity of indigenous products.[3]


[1] Compiled from the data of the Turkish Statistics Institution (TUİK) and İzmir Provincial Directorate of Agriculture.

[2] OECD, 2006: Competitive Cities in the Global Economy, OECD Publishing

[3] TPE, 2013