structure of the organic sector
Two official committees are described in the law as part of the
decision-making process of the organic sector. The ‘Organic Farming Committee’
in the Ministry is in charge of the implementation of the present law,
including the supervision of the work within the Ministry and the authorized
bodies, enterprises, entrepreneurs, inspectors, and certifiers. The committee
has 20 members from different departments of MARA. The ‘Organic Farming
National Steering Committee’ is in charge of the development of strategies for
trade and promotion of organic production, including relevant research and
monitoring services together with organizations and agencies outside the
Ministry. With the broad and active participation of stakeholders, with 35
committee members representing governmental organizations and agencies,
professional chambers, civil society organizations, universities, and the
private sector, this committee is very effective.
The introduction of the law in 2004, in combination with strong
lobbying by different stakeholders, especially increased the production and the
product variety in the domestic market. A new law also facilitated the
establishment of producers’ unions and cooperatives. As a result, some farmer
organizations have been formed in addition to the exporting companies (77
companies in 2005), big farms, food manufacturers (361 certified operators in
2005), private traders, and investors. As an example, ORGUDER, the Association
for Organic Food Producers and Industrialists, was established recently by the
NGO’s have played a
big role in building awareness among consumers and producers. The first NGO,
the Association of Ecological Agricultural Movements was founded by some
exporters and professors of Egean University in Izmir.
This organization has provided technical training, published the first
introductory book on organic agriculture, and organized three national
symposiums on organic agriculture. Bugday, founded in 1991, was another
national movement that became a catalyst and facilitator, organizing events and
lobbying, providing publications, and presenting practical examples that have
been a strong ‘motor’ for the movement.
Despite many organizational initiatives, the lack of financial
resources for capacity-building has hampered the possibilities for finding
qualified people engaged in the organic sector. Much more could also be
achieved with more cooperation.
Organic farming has been promoted as a unique tool for rural
development in Turkey
on the political level. The farmers have generally been motivated by economic
possibilities, while the Turkish consumer generally sees organic as a healthy
and tasty alternative.
research, education and extension
‘Learning by doing’ and ‘believing only after seeing the
example’ is part of Turkish tradition and culture, especially among the rural
population. As a result, the first educational initiatives in organic
agriculture were the ones carried out on farms and in the production units.
This has been and will be an effective tool. The universities rarely gave
courses in this field before 2000. In recent years, research on organic
agricultural production has increased, and one University Branch specializing
in organic production techniques opened in Kelkit in East
Turkey in 2003 with the sponsorship of the Aydin Dogan Foundation.
The TaTuTa, a project for agro-tourism and exchange that
receives hundreds of national and international volunteers and tourists
annually, is another initiative that has played a role in consumer and producer
education. TaTuTa started in 2003 and was run by NGOs with a little support
from GEF SGP (United Nations Development Program Global Environment Fund Small
Grants Program) in the first two years. It continued successfully with a
growing number of organic farms (currently 70).
One national government project is ‘Extension of Organic
Agriculture’, carried out in 29 establishments in 24 provinces and covering
training, research and development projects, and extension studies on organic
plant, animal and aquaculture products. The education MARA gave to its staff at
the regional level was not effective because of discontinuity, lack of proper
curricula, and frequent changes in positions by the people at those offices.
Some universities have made effective contributions in their
research on organic farming by doing it in cooperation with some volunteer
farmers at their farms, and sharing the results of their research directly with
the interested farmers.
The existing export market is a good start for building the organic sector and a domestic market, but a domestic market is necessary to develop organic farming further in Turkey. (Author: Victor Ananias)
Lack of education in rural areas, especially lack of knowledge about organic farming, is a major obstacle.
A large range of products is an important factor for the development of a domestic market.
Foreign market actors and donors have played an important role in the development of the organic sector.
Stakeholder involvement is crucial for good, relevant development of the national law, extension, research, and education.
Engaged NGOs play an important role in promotion and lobbying for good development
A government payment for organic production effectively leads to conversion, but the conversion is successful only if there is a market for the products.
Organization of farmers in unions and cooperatives and having strong farmers’ networks are essential for market development.
A clear common concept and logo is beneficial for building consumer trust. Another effective measure to build consumer interest and awareness is for producers to meet consumers on farms or in farmers’ markets.
Lack of coordination and cooperation is a major limiting factor. A national action plan, where
e.g. specific roles for different stakeholders are described, is foreseen as an instrument to solve this problem.
• Financial resources for capacity building are essential.
Further reading on Early Organic Development In Turkey:
Case Study Overview
Early Organic Agricultural Development
Organic Market Development
Regulatory Framework and Policy
Supporting Structures and Lessons Learned
(Adapted From IFOAM, Building Sustainable Organic Sectors)
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