Association says Turkey haven for organic farming, calls for policies to boost sector
The organic product market has been growing rapidly across the world, and Turkey is a haven for organic farming, the head of the Union of Turkish Chambers of Agriculture (TZOB), Şemsi Bayraktar, said on Feb. 25.
“The market size of organic farming was $15.2 billion in 1999, while it reached $89.7 billion in 2016 across the world. Turkey is a haven for organic farming and it should benefit from this huge potential,” Bayraktar said, adding that the right policies should be put in place in Turkey to boost the sector.
Starting to grow in the 1980s as a result of problems in conventional production and in search for a production model that does not harm the environment, animals, plants and humans, organic farming has been popular especially in developed countries.
Citing data from the Organic Farming Research Foundation and the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements, Bayraktar said 2.7 million people conduct organic farming in a total area of 57.8 million hectares in 178 countries.
Currently, the United States is the leader in terms of market size with $43.1 billion, which is followed by Germany and France.
Turkey has also performed well in this field, by increasing the organic farming area from 6,800 to 524,000 hectares between 1996 and 2016, Bayraktar said. The number of organic farmers is currently 69,000 in Turkey and the eastern Anatolia region is especially a haven for organic farming, he added.
“There were only eight organic products manufactured in Turkey in 1996, while this number has reached 238 today. The main focus was concentrated in the Aegean region at first, but it rapidly spread across the country,” Bayraktar underlined.
The organic animal husbandry sector is also growing in Turkey, Bayraktar said.
“Today, 207 farmers are engaged in organic animal husbandry and 640 beekeepers have produced nearly 350 tons of organic honey so far,” he added.
Bayraktar said overall support and incentive for organic farming is one of the biggest reasons for growth, which must continue to boost the sector.
He added that organic farming activities are mainly based on exportation in Turkey, with dried products leading the list.
“We need to increase the amount of exported products, but we also need to make sure we export processed products that have high added value,” Bayraktar said, adding promotional activities are equally important for Turkey to improve its position in organic farming.