Turkish agronomist teaching farming to Malawians at hunger risk
Ece ÇELİK – ISTANBUL
Within the scope of a project aimed to train farming practices to African villagers at risk of starvation, a Turkish agronomist has been spending days in Malawi teaching the locals what to plant to feed themselves.
“You know the famous saying, ‘Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.’ This is what we do,” Merve Gülistan Aydın, an agronomist, told the daily Hürriyet on Jan. 11.
The name of the project that took Aydın to the southeastern African country is “The nature at my heart,” conducted by the “Dreams of Children Foundation.”
She has been teaching about sustainable agricultural practices to dozens of villagers in the country’s rural zones facing hunger risk for a month now.
“I came here upon the invitation from the foundation’s founder, Mahmut Ensari Caymaz. We are setting orchards with our African friends,” she noted.
Born in 1991, Aydın studied organic agriculture at Gaziosmanpaşa University in the Black Sea province of Tokat. Working in Turkey’s first and only biodynamics farm, she consulted many firms and individuals across the country interested in farming for years.
However, people recognized her for her charity works and efforts in natural catastrophe regions. In February 2020, she gained fame for her efforts to save animals stuck under the debris of buildings that collapsed after an earthquake in her hometown, the eastern province of Elazığ.
“Apart from planting, we also have a ‘milk goat project.’ The Malawian families get milk from animals and are learning to make dairy products,” she said.
She also thanked all the people who donated saplings to the Malawian people once she announced the project on her social media accounts.
“As soon as I made the announcement, a load of donations was made. With the help of the donors, we planted some 1,200 saplings of lemon, orange and mango in two Malawian villages,” she said. “We then wrote the names of the donors on the saplings and published the photos of them on social media.”
It is quite heartwarming to see new donors waiting in line, Aydın added.
Caymaz, who has been in the African country for the last six months, is proud to host Aydın in Malawi. “We gave agricultural training to adults and taught botanical education to children.”
He called the orchards he has set up with Aydın an “ecological school.”