From food to cosmetics, most products are turning organic these days. As a preference for healthy products in recent years has brought about tremendous improvements in the organic agriculture sector, the Turkish organic sector seeks a larger share in the world organic market of $40 billion. Turkey has fallen from fifth to 37th place in the world organic product market since the 1990s. There has been no decrease in the production and export of organic products in Turkey, said Sezmen Alper, secretary general of the Aegean Exporters’ Association. But, Turkey has not been able to achieve growth parallel to worldwide development, Alper said.
Inadequate consumption in domestic market
Organic production is mostly export-oriented in Turkey. It is predicted that the annual export of organic products totals $130-150 million. The sector plans to increase exports to $1 billion by 2012.
Among cultivated areas, eight of every 1,000 fields grow organic products. It is expected that organic product fields will reach 3 percent of total cultivated areas by 2012. The sector plans to increase domestic consumption from $5 million to $50 million by 2012.
Sector representatives prepared a list of how to reach a good place in the global organic production market. Representatives proposed the formation of an organic product advertisement committee and the arrangement of trainings to explain the benefits of organic products. Participation in international fairs should be encouraged and an international fair should be held in Turkey. An Organic Product Exporters’ Union should be founded and a general directorate of organic agriculture should be established under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, said sector representatives.
Organic agriculture in the world
The market share of organic agriculture is growing worldwide. This is mainly the result of increasing consumer awareness about healthy food and environmental interest in recent years. People are recognizing the vital connections between diet, health, agriculture and the environment.
Recent research reveals that organic agriculture is applied on 31 million hectares of land worldwide. Oceania has 39 percent of the world’s total organic farming fields. The share in Europe is 23 percent and Latin America has 19 percent. Australia is the country with the largest land for organic agriculture (11.8 million hectares).
Organic agriculture in Turkey
What is needed to promote organic agriculture in Turkey? The answer appears to be the designation of a complete �Action Plan� that includes upgraded trainings, advisory services for farmers, research, improvement of farmers’ incomes, conversion assistance and marketing innovations.
The number of organic product producers increased from 1,947 in 1996 to 14,256 in 2006 and organic production of 10,304 tons increased to 458,000 tons. 210 different kinds of organic products have begun production in Turkey.