Türkiye's recent economic growth and agricultural sector development have placed considerable pressure on nature. Therefore, sustainable agriculture and organic farming practices have become increasingly crucial. Farmers and consumers alike recognize the benefits of these methods for both nature and human health. The government and private sector continue to support organic farming through policies and programs, while there is a growing awareness among Turkish consumers about the importance of protecting nature through green agricultural practices.
Türkiye contains three of the world's seven biogeographical regions, each with its own diverse ecosystems and a wide range of plant and animal species. Comparing the plant species in Türkiye to the entire European continent, Anatolia alone has 11.707 gymnosperm and angiosperm species, with about one third being endemic. Additionally, Türkiye is also the only country where three out of eight gene pool centers in the world intersect.
History of agriculture
Agriculture has always been a significant part of Türkiye's economy and still plays a vital role today. In 2020, the agricultural sector employed 18% of the workforce, contributed 10% to exports, and accounted for 7% of the Gross Domestic Product. The country had nearly half a million farmers in 2022, utilizing about half of the land for agricultural purposes.
Türkiye is a leading global producer of hazelnuts and apricots and ranks seventh in overall agricultural production. Other major crops include wheat, sugar beet, milk, poultry, cotton, vegetables, and fruit. Domestic production fulfills almost all seed requirements in the country.
Unfortunately, the increased use of modern farming methods and chemicals in recent years has led to adverse effects on soil health and water quality. To address these challenges and enhance the competitiveness of the agricultural sector, the government and private sector are actively promoting sustainable and organic farming practices.
Long-term government policies for sustainable production
The origins of sustainable agriculture date way back to earlier times. But over the past 20 years, Türkiye has made significant progress in sustainable agricultural practices. The Regulation on Good Agricultural Practices was implemented in 2004, followed by the Agricultural Sector Integrated Management Information System (TARSEY) project from 2013 to 2020. This project aimed to coordinate and monitor agricultural activities on a digital platform. In 2019, the Turkish government unveiled a long-term growth strategy for 2019-2023, incorporating a more environmentally friendly approach to agriculture.
Green Deal Action Plan
Additionally, the adoption of the Green Deal Action Plan in 2021 further emphasized the goals of reducing pesticide, anti-microbial, and chemical fertilizer usage, promoting organic production, increasing renewable energy use, and improving waste and residue management.
And the Green Reconciliation Action Plan was introduced as a roadmap that is in line with global transformative policies, especially those of the E.U. It emphasizes long-term sustainability and it was delivered in reaction to the launch of the Fit-for-55 program and the EU Green Deal by the European Commission .
Although Türkiye is not a member state of the E.U., around 42% of its export goes to E.U. countries. As stricter import rules are expected to be implemented soon, the Turkish government declared its new strategy in order to stay competitive. This strategy is based on building an efficient and highly productive agricultural sector that is environmentally and socially sustainable such as promoting organic farming, technological innovation, recycling and the implementation of renewable energy sources.
Support for organic farming through subsidies and training
The Turkish government provides support for organic farming through subsidies, technical assistance, and farmer training programs. It has also established an organic certification system to ensure compliance with international standards.
Private companies contribute significantly to the promotion of sustainable and organic farming practices through research and development in order to improve organic farming methods and market access for organic products. NGOs, cooperatives, and sustainability groups contribute as well by providing education and training on farming, as well as market development and promotion of organic products.
The continuity of support policies is a concern
Despite these efforts, organic farming remains a small fraction (approximately 3%) of Türkiye's total agricultural land, and several challenges need to be addressed. Türkiye's agriculture sector has a dual structure, with a mix of traditional and modern practices. Regional variations in agricultural technology usage and the high input costs pose significant challenges to a sustainable economic income for farmers. The continuity of government support policies is also a concern during the implementation of nature-inclusive agricultural production.
In conclusion, Türkiye's rich biodiversity and unique ecosystems make it imperative to prioritize sustainable agricultural practices that protect nature. Despite the country's longstanding history of agriculture and the significant contribution if farming to the economy, the increased use of modern farming methods and chemicals has negatively impacted soil health and water quality. To combat these issues, the government and private sector have been actively promoting sustainable and organic farming practices over the past two decades. But there is work to be done.
Would you like to know more about the current developments in the domain of agriculture and nature in Türkiye or contact the agricultural team at the Netherlands Embassy in Ankara?
You can visit the country page of Türkiye at the website agroberichtenbuitenland.nl of the Netherlands ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality. You can also send an email to ANKemail@example.com