|Organic Certification Program|
Anatolia Foundation supports the efforts of pioneer farmers and food crafters for the propagation and marketing of heirloom and traditional food products by ecologically sustainable organic methods. In 2007, we partnered with CERES Inc, an international organic certification agency to certify farmland in the rural Kars region. The program certified 180 farmers from seven different villages adjacent to Lake Cildir and Lake Kuyucuk, both designated “Important Plant and Bird Areas” (IPA and IBA). Working alongside the CERES representatives, the project team organized educational workshops, and visited and interviewed each participating farmer. The largest participating village, with over 100 farmers whose fields surround Kuyucuk Lake, became primarily organic. As a result, usage of chemical fertilizers was reduced from approximately 300 Metric Tons (MT) before the onset of the project, to 50MT in 2009 in this particular environment. This in turn will improve the quality of the underground waterways feeding into the lake, where migrating birds feed on plankton.
Currently, the certification program has grown to include 220 farmers, with 6125 acres of land under organic certification. The total certified crop is 5398 MT, of which 3783MT is under transitional status and 1615 MT is under organic status. Besides sales of crops, the project was able to bring returns to the region immediately, as farmers saved an estimated $250,000 per year in expenses that relate to conventional farming (e.g. chemical fertilizers and pesticides). Additionally, farmers in the program receive subsidies from the Ministry of Agriculture for farming organically. The total subsidy eligible to project farmers was an estimated USD $300,000 for the 2010 harvest. The project was featured in FORBES Magazine (Turkish version) October 2009 Issue, and Newsweek Turkey September 2010 Issue, as a successful sustainable project model.