Local seeds gain value in Erzurum

01 Feb 2009


Wheat farmers in Erzurum take action to protect local zerun, kırik, şigon wheat species and küşne, külür, zegerek fodder plants. The aim of the project “Sustainable and Effective Usage of Resources in the Production of Local Zerun, Kırik, Şigon Organic Wheat” is to prevent wheat breeds and fodder plants from extinction, to protect these local breeds in the regional ecosystem and in situ and to ensure sustainable and effective usage of water resources.

New Horizons - The project is supported in the context of the grants component of Small Investments Fund Project Phase II, which is carried out in partnership with Union of Eastern Anatolia Agricultural Producers and Stock Farmers (DOĞBESBİR), United Nations Development Programme and Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan Pipeline Company (BTC).

People from Pasinler, Aşkale and Ilıca villages of Erzurum, which are located on the route of the BTC pipeline, earn their living from grain production. The local plants, zerun, kırik, şigon wheat species and küşne, külür, zegerek fodder plants can adapt to continental climate and are resistant to plant diseases. Seeds imported from abroad, which have higher yields, are subsidized whereas local seeds are not. This situation negatively affects the villagers. Local crops are not much demanded in the market and although the gluten ingredient of local crops is high, they are sold at low prices.

Farmers are unaware of the characteristics of the local species. What is more, there is not any academic work on these local seeds. For this reason, the project aims to conserve local zerun, kırik, şigon wheat species and küşne, külür, zegerek fodder plants in situ, ensure organic certification of these species, increase their production and promote the conservation of biodiversity. Moreover, making the food production in the region efficient, raising the fattening quality to sustainable levels, increasing the prosperity of poor people in rural areas through protection and improvement of water resources and creating a model in the region are among the targets of the project.

As part of the project, seeds provided by DOĞBESBİR were distributed to farmers and were planted under the control of agricultural engineers. The farmers were registered and then the contracted auditing and certification organization conducted the first investigations. A training curriculum and training materials were prepared for the farmers and the trainings covering the topics of accurate cultivation methods, biodiversity, factors affecting the agricultural efficiency, organic agriculture and effective irrigation techniques were delivered. Additionally, The Control Certification Organization has significantly contributed to increased awareness of the farmers on the rules of buying organic products.

The achieved success also attracts attention of the farmers who did not participate in the project. Farmers who have formerly started to practice organic agriculture are also participating in the project with their own seeds. Through the project, an increase in the number of farmers adopting organic production is indicated for the harvest of 2009.

Organic agriculture, which commenced in 2002, provides significant income for the farmers in the region. More than 10.000 tons of organic wheat has been sold to İstanbul Halk Ekmek Inc. since 2004 and other organic product demands from Turkey and abroad were met. With the contribution of this project, farmers’ income levels have risen.

The project mentioned above is one of the nine small-scale projects in the context of the grants component of BTC/UNDP Small Investments Fund Project Phase II. In this framework, other projects focusing on protection of biodiversity and raising awareness, sustainable use of local clean energy resources, eco-tourism in  Kars, Adana, Osmaniye and Hatay were supported. A total of $263.950 were granted for the projects that were carried out between November 2007 and December 2008.