Life has turned around for some farmers in Bandırma, a town of Balıkesir located in northwestern Turkey, as the town has been attracting much attention from large-scale energy investments with its wind potential.
Around 500 villagers in Bandırma, one of the most prominent spots in terms of wind potential, have become rich after selling the lands inherited from their fathers to the companies that plan energy investments. The villagers have been reportedly paid nearly 80 million Turkish Liras for the lands in the region to date. The villagers, who used to closely monitor the base prices announced by the government, now buy luxury cars, build villas and buy land in tourist regions.
"Our family moved to Bandırma 130 years ago from Bulgaria. We have always dealt with farming, and picked up a scanty livelihood. I would not believe if someone told me that these lands would be as valuable as gold. But one day, some people came and paid a high amount of money for our lands and made us rich," said Hüseyin Meşeli, 78, living in Buğdaylı, a village located around 30 kilometers distance to Bandırma.
EnerjiSA, Çolakoğlu and Borusan, pay 10 to 15 times their worth to the arid lands in Bandırma and the surrounding region. Taş Yapı, Ağaoğlu and an unnamed Italian company are expected to push the button for energy investment in the region soon.
The villages on the Bandırma-Çanakkale Highway, such as Buğdaylı, Edincik, Bezirci, Paşaçiftlik, Hıdırköy and Şirinçavuş, and the large agricultural land surrounding them have become popular for investors within the last two years. Having become rich suddenly, the lives of villagers have changed completely.
First, they had their clinics and mosques repaired, and then villagers oriented to their private spending. In the villages, which have almost turned into small building sites, farmers are feeding their animals with one hand, and laying the foundation of their villas with the other. The village roads are full of luxurious vehicles and tractors. In Buğdaylı, which has 250 houses, over 100 people have sold their land to Çolakoğlu Metalurji, Turkey’s second largest iron-steel company after Erdemir.
The villagers have sold a total of 3,800 dunams of land, said Süleyman Yazıcı, the clerk of the village. "The lands, to which nobody paid even 5,000 liras until a while ago, have been sold for 25 to 30,000 liras." Yazıcı said that totally arid fields have been sold for 11,000 liras while olive groves have been sold for 25,000 liras and coastal lands for 30 to 35,000 liras. The revenues attained from sales have changed the face of Buğdaylı, according to Yazıcı.
However, Ahmet Çetin, another villager, is not very content with the sale price of lands. The lands were sold at a price lower than their actual value, according to Çetin. People have been satisfied by hot money, but now left "without profession," he said.
"We are farmers. We we cannot succeed in any other profession. We have bought houses, cars ... but what is next? What will we do when the money is gone?"