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Turkey is a Eurasian country located on the borders of southeastern Europe and southwestern Asia, thus considered as a unique bridge linking the continents of Europe and Asia. The country is surrounded by three seas namely Black Sea, Aegean Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. Turkey’s population was estimated at 73.6 million in 2011. Although Ankara is Turkey’s capital, the biggest, most important, and economical city is Istanbul. Turkey is currently engaged in EU accession process.

The country is administratively divided into 81 provinces. For census purpose, the provinces are organized into seven regions. Each province comprises a number of districts; the total number of districts is 923. Turkey’s eastern part is mountainous, with several rivers. The country is prone to frequent earthquakes. In general, summers are hot and dry, while winters are wet and cool. Climate varies from region to region and the same is true for coastal areas.

About 29.5 percent of the country’s labor force was employed by agriculture sector in 2009 as compared to 2001 when it used to be 40 percent. In 2011, the contribution of the sector to nation’s GDP was 9.3 percent. According to the 1990 census, 85 percent of land holdings were less than 10 hectares and 57 percent of these were fragmented into smaller plots. Large farms exist in Adana, Izmir and Konya regions. Although modern machinery has been introduced, agricultural operations in general remain traditional. Turkey’s total land area is considered as arable, but only about one-third is under cultivation in any given year. In 1998, about 16 percent of the arable area was irrigated. Rise in the use of inorganic fertilizers and expansion of irrigated areas have raised yields. About 90 percent of cultivable land is devoted to cereals, with wheat being the dominant crop. Other major crops and fruits are barley, sugar beets, and grapes, but maize, sunflower seeds, cotton, oranges, olive, fruits, nuts and, especially hazelnuts, are also grown. Turkey’s tobacco is in great demand as is evident from its substantial exports. Government’s subsidies to the farmers are being steadily phased out. Livestock and fishery sectors are also of economic importance but they need improvement.


HISTORY OF EXTENSION AND THE ENABLING/DISABLING ENVIRONMENT


The very first formal organization for providing rural advisory services in Turkey was the Agriculture and Industry Council of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, established in 1838. The Turkish government has been developing agricultural research and extension since 1930s under the Ministry of Agriculture (later called as Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, and since 2011 called as the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock. Turkey hosted the CENTO Conference on Agricultural Extension held from April 12 to 22, 1967.
Two phases (first 1984-1993 and the second 1990-1997) of the Agricultural Extension and Applied Research Project (AEARP), jointly financed by the government and the World Bank, gave a big boost to extension when the Training and Visit (T&V) system of extension was introduced throughout the country. Positions of Village Group Technicians (VGTs) were created. Each VGT covers four to five villages and lives in a village. The T&V model of extension is still in operation with some modifications. In 1987, the Chamber of Agriculture (TZOB), the biggest farmers’ association in the country with a membership of over 4.8 million farmers, launched the German-assisted pilot Leader Farmer Project in four districts with the aim of introducing private advisory services. The project succeeded in injecting a trend towards privatization but it did not prove to be financially sustainable.

Presently, policy level responsibilities in extension are carried by certain national level departments. Field extension services are provided by provincial administrations each of which covers many sub-districts and villages, within each district. Some of the recent extension-related projects are: “Village-Centered Agricultural Production Support Project (KOYMER)”; “Development of Agricultural Extension Project (TAR-GEL)”; Farmers Training by Television Project (YAY3EP); Agricultural Mechanization Training Center for Irrigated Areas Project; Agricultural Extension Services Support Project; Development of Organic Farming Project; Agricultural Extension Development Project; Young Farmers Training Project; Cooperatives Trading System Training Project; and the Project on Training of Rankers in Agricultural Issues.

In accordance with the Article 8 of the EU Regulation No. 1782/2003, the Turkish government prepared a regulation for agricultural extension and consultancy services in 2006. The regulation outlines rules and procedures for the provision of both public and non-public extension services by institutions and consultants. This development has encouraged the non-public actors such as farmers’ organizations, independent consultants in agriculture, agricultural consulting firms, and private companies involved in selling farm inputs and purchasing agricultural produce, and volunteer institutions, to enter the extension delivery domain. In 2009, for the first time in Turkey’s history, the government supported those farmers who purchased consultancy services from private service providers. It is reported that as many as 11 farmers’ associations hire agricultural consultants. While member farmers pay 50 percent of the operating costs, the Union of Turkish Chamber of Agriculture pays the remaining 50 percent. Consultants who are willing to reside in villages and to sign contracts with local institutions, such as farmers’ unions. Under this arrangement, 54 percent of the project cost (consultancy fee) is paid by local institutions while the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock and some private organizations pay the rest of the amount. In 2006, there were 1,021 hired consultants in 81 provinces, the number of consultants in each province being 10 to 15.

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Andrea Bohn,
17/1/2011 9:50