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Berat Daşdemir, Büyük Çatma Village, Emmer Grower
CAPACITY BUILDING FOR YOUNG FARMERS
The villages of Eastern Anatolia have suffered heavy migration of youth to big cities in recent years. This is a major factor endangering the future of village life in Turkey. ANATOLIA FOUNDATION is guiding and educating young farmers in the Kars region of Eastern Anatolia in acquiring new skills and building capacity in organic farming and product formulation.
In our agricultural project, we teamed up with young villagers to bring back endangered crops. We focused on passing on traditional farming knowledge supplementing it with modern organic farming methods. Farmers included in the organic certification program were offered hands-on educational and capacity building sessions. Elders were brought into the discussions to share their knowledge. Organic certifyers conducted fieldwork, advising farmers on how to use organically acceptable measures to fight parasites and improve yield.
The most satisfying outcome of the project has been the keen participation of these young farmers. Some have specifically returned from Istanbul to join the organic farming project and to plant Emmer. The story of Berat Dasdemir was featured in the popular Turkish newspaper Radikal. Berat left his ancestral village for Istanbul to study kickboxing and ended up working in bars. When heard about the project he returned to his village to plant Emmer with his brothers.
Beti Minkin, Anatolia Foundation President is also the owner of Tohum Natural Foods. She is volunteering to help these young farmers to set up an organic food business in their village, a first project of its kind in Turkey. Through sustainable, holistic lifestyles and environmentally sound activities, the village opens up to the world, presenting new opportunities for the young residents. Without capacity building for the youth, it would be difficult to obtain long-term sustainability in the rural environment.