Article: Hindrances local organic farmers are facing in the Turkish organic agricultural sector : an attempt to identify barriers and suggest ways to eliminate themMatthias Lehner[show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Today, organic agriculture is considered a viable option to close the gap between commonly practiced agriculture and the goal of an economically, environmentally and socially sustainable agriculture. During the last 25 years, Turkey saw a first wave of conversion to organic farming practices, mainly spurred by demand from export markets. Due to exceptional natural conditions, foreign companies settled in the country to establish and supervise production for their home-markets in Europe, America or Japan. This thesis is aiming for clarity about the hindrances farmers may face on their way from conventional to organic farming in Turkey. In order to gain a thorough picture of the situation for farmers, consumers and other stakeholders in the Turkish organic sector, they were interviewed or asked to complete a questionnaire concerning their view on problems of-, and possible solutions for the organic farmers’ situation. The results of this research show a lack of coordination and trust among stakeholders. The top-down led organic sector is dominated by foreign production- and certification companies. Even though the Turkish Ministry for Agriculture and Rural Affairs is widely respected for its commitment to organic agriculture, the ministry’s expertise is put into doubt. Thereby a strong and clear leader for the development of the sector is difficult to pin-point for most actors. Unisonous, the development of the market (both export and domestic) is considered most important, ranked higher than additional governmental support. In respect to these findings, this thesis finishes with the conclusion that there is an urgent need for a more active grass-root movement. Such, it is reasoned, will help to move the spotlight of focus on the farmers’ situation. More than financial support, farmers need functioning support structures to guide them through the challenging conversion period and help with knowledge gathering and marketing.