ISTANBUL, March 29 (Xinhua) -- Farmers in Türkiye's southern province of Hatay who had fled the destruction of last month's massive earthquakes are returning to their homes to start spring plowing amid a series of setbacks.
The devastating twin earthquakes on February 6 had caused farmers in the Amik Valley, one of the most fertile areas in the country, to flee to neighboring towns and provinces.
The Amik Valley is home to a variety of produce, from grapes, peaches, and apricots to olives, as well as staples such as wheat, onions, potatoes, and lettuce among others.
Now, weeks behind schedule, many farmers are returning to plow their fields and not to waste the springtime, the state-run Anadolu agency reported on Wednesday.
"Our house is damaged, and I lost two nephews in the earthquake," Mehmet Karaduman told Anadolu, adding "we are trying to get back on our feet, but a lot of the work that needs to be done in the fields is late for a whole month."
Another hardship facing the farmers is the massive labor outflow from the earthquake zone. "What once took us three days of work now takes five because of the outflow," Karaduman noted, referring to the difficulties of finding and hiring employees to work in the fields.
Most of them, whose livelihood depends purely on the produce they would grow out of their fields, stay in tents or shipping containers in front of their damaged or collapsed homes.
Osman Arik, a 79-year-old farmer, has returned home from a neighboring province to look after his vineyards. "I get about 2-3 tons of grapes per year, which is very fertile," he recalled, believing that they would overcome all the difficulties by working hard.
Hatay province is one of the areas most affected by the massive earthquakes in February that killed over 50,000 people. ■