|Turkey Early Develpment; Case Studies for Organic Agricultural Development|
The early development of organic farming
organic agriculture began in 1984-1985 with demand for organic raisins and
traditional export products. Until 1990 only eight products were cultivated
organically, whereas by 1999 the product range had gone up to 92. Organic land
increased from 1,037 ha in 1990 to 44,552 ha in 1999, and the number of
producers from 300 to 12,435. In 2005, land under organic certification was
175,000 ha and the number of farmers was around 12,000.
In the beginning the product range depended totally on the demands of western markets; therefore the largest share of production has been nuts and other dried products. As the local market grows, the product demands are changing, and accordingly there is increasing production and marketing of grains, oil seeds, fresh fruits and vegetables, some animal products, and value-added goods.
The first players in organic farming were a few European buyers, their local representatives, and contracted farmers. This situation did not change until 2000, when a strong initiative took place for creating a domestic market for organic. After a lot of media coverage, civil society activities and new regulations coming into force from that year on, there has been a great interest among the broad public to invest, learn, and become consumers of organic products. The domestic market for organic products in Turkey was started by the efforts of civil society, especially the NGO Bugday’s initiative to set up the first organic stores between 1998 and 2002. The products sold in the domestic market at that time were mostly the dried products produced for export, sold at double the price of conventional ones. At first, wholesaling and distribution of organic products was also done by Bugday in cooperation with one of the largest export companies, Rapunzel Turkey.
A milestone was the Bafa Lake Congress, organized in 1999, where 80 active and potential stakeholders in domestic markets, including the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (MARA), producers, business entrepreneurs and several NGOs, got together to discuss the theme ‘towards a healthy organic domestic market’ and to start focusing and playing their part in it. In 2002 there were already a couple of dozen organic stores that were not selling much but were functioning as educational points for the consumer. The same year Bugday started the first CSA, a direct sale system from farm to consumer. Several similar systems followed. In 2005 there were around 300 sales points all over the country, including corners at some supermarkets and specialty stores.
Bugday Association started the first 100% certified organic farmers’ market in Istanbul in June 2006, another important milestone in the development of the domestic market in Turkey. The market is open every Saturday and for the first time has brought together an assortment of several hundred different organic products, directly from the producers. In October 2006 the market had 110 stands and around 1,200 visitors weekly, and got enormous attention in the local and national media. While Bugday sets the principles for an organic and a fair market model for Turkey, many other cities are now preparing their own markets.
Challenges for the organic movement are the lack of a national
action plan and the lack of coordination among different stakeholders in
organic production and consumption. MARA has started to coordinate the
preparation of a National Strategy Document and published the first draft
National Strategy document in May 2006. (Author: Victor Ananias)
Further reading on Early Organic Development In Turkey:
(Adapted From IFOAM, Building Sustainable Organic Sectors)
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