E-Learning (English)

  • 1. General Info

    Turkey has highly interesting production conditions to produce a wide range of organic crops: relatively low salary costs, good climatic conditions and Turkey’s proximity to Europe make Turkey a very interesting sourcing country for organic produce. Also, available infrastructure, especially roads, are of rather good quality compared to other countries with similar production conditions. And the government’s positive attitude towards organic agriculture – respectively the subsidy scheme for organic farming – is certainly positive. Challenges refer mainly to the small-scale production structures, the general low level of education of farmers, and their integration in the supply chain. This makes supply chains very complex, challenging traceability and the direct communication with farmers – which is essential to safeguard quality of raw material production. In other words, the involvement of many farmers within one business venture implies a rather high risk in regard to non-compliance of organic practices and potential contamination of produce at the level of production. The learning modules of this portal will discuss in more detail how such risk can be managed, especially for the most important export crops: dried apricots, sultanas (raisins), hazelnuts, and figs.   1sayfa
  • 2. Overview of Most Interesting Export Crops

    Overview of Most Interesting Export Crops
    Turkey has a clear competitive advantage for organic crops that are well-adapted to the climatic conditions in Turkey and which are relatively labor intensive, i.e. where the use of mechanical harvesting or post-harvest equipment is limited. Most important crops are shown in the graph below. Hazelnuts, figs, apricots, and raisons are the most important organic export crops grown for export in Turkey, being sold mainly as food ingredients in dried form. But also other fruits are relevant, gaining increasingly importance, such as strawberries, apples, cherries, and pomegranate. Organic cotton production is also meaningful, as organic lint, yarn and textiles are important export goods. Also, different horticultural and grain- crops are relevant, although in terms of value they are still far less important than the crops mentioned above. Particularly important is the organic production of chick pea, lentils, sesame, and capers. Organic olives and rice are also produced in Turkey.    
    As Turkey has no solid system for data collection, official export statistics are far below real values. According to ETO’s estimations, export values might be 4 to 6 times higher, depending on the crop!
    As a big country on the boarder to Europe, Turkey benefits from different climatic conditions and relatively low salary costs, thus being especially competitive for different labor intensive organic crops such as dried apricots and figs, sultana raisins, and hazelnuts. The production of these crops is very much region-specific.

        Overall Sector Opportunities and Challenges
    Opportunities Challenge
    + Excellent ecological production conditions to produce a wide range of crops organically
    + Low labor costs in rural areas
    + Fairly good infrastructure (public and private)
    + Proximity to the European market
    + Conformity of Turkish Organic Regulation with Council Regulation (EC) No 834/2007
    + Government support to organic agriculture (subsidies)
    - Small-scale production structures
    - Low level of education of most farmers
    - Limited organic extension services
    - Reduced integration of actors along organic value chains to secure product quality and mitigate production risks
    - Risk of pesticide contamination
    - Market access through sound partnerships with buyers
  • 3. Development and Status of Organic Sector Development in Turkey

    Development and Status of Organic Sector Development in Turkey
    The initial driver for organic sector development in Turkey relates to the export business. In the 1980s, first foreign companies started organic farming ventures to produce for the Western European market. Consequently, first certification bodies became active in Turkey in the late 1980s: BCS, IMO, Ecocert, and Skal. In the early 1990s, ETO was founded as the first organic stakeholder association was founded. As organic production became an important economic activity in the 1990s, the Turkish National Organic Regulation was issued in 1994. Yet, 10 more years passed before the first law on organic farming was set in place. In 2015, this law has been under revision. However, most critical is the fact that Turkey is – since years – sill in the evaluation process to be listed on the EU Third Country List, which would simplify procedures and reduce costs for organic exports to the EU, the main market for Turkish organic producers. Organik Yönetmeliği ve Logo 7sayfaTurkish Ministry of Food, Agriculture & Livestock (MoFAL) is responsible to promote the sustainable use of agricultural and ecological resources in Turkey, including access to safe food and high-quality agricultural products for the domestic and international market. In regard to organic agriculture, it is MoFAL’s responsibility to set in place a Competent Authority for implementing the Organic Regulation including surveillance of Control Bodies. For more information see: http://www.tarim.gov.tr/Sayfalar/Eng-1033/Anasayfa.aspx  

    The organic regulation in Turkey has steadily developed over the last 20 years:
    • 1994 – issuing of first Turkish National Organic Regulation
    • 2004 – publication of first National Organic Law
    • 2005 – publication of By-Laws on Principals and Application of Organic Farming” in line with EU Regulation 2092/91
    • 2010 – issuing of Regulation on Principals and Application of Organic Farming” in harmonization with EU Regulation 834/2007, 889/2008, 710/2010
    • 2011 – Foundation of Department of Good Agricultural Practices and Organic Farming
    • 2015 – last revision of the Organic Law and Regulation
    Note: Turkey’s acceptance for EU Third Country List is still pending (Annex III to Regulation (EC) No 1235/2008)

    The national organic logo can be used on products that are organically certified and comply with the Turkish Organic Law No. 5262 issued 01.12.2004. Owner of the logo and the standard is the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock (MoFAL), who is also in charge to take sanctions in case of misuse. In 2016, there are around 62’000 certified operators within Turkey that have access to this logo, including: farmers, processors, and traders/exporters.
    The logo has three visual versions:

  • 4. Institutional Setup of Organic Value Chains in Turkey

    Institutional Setup of Organic Value Chains in Turkey
    Success with organic business development for export relates in Turkey very much to the institutional setup of value chains. As land is fragmented, production for export relies on structures that aggregate production in order to reach exportable volumes. As illustrated in the figure, mostly cooperatives or local traders, who act as middlemen, fulfill this role. This has, however, a big disadvantage – especially in organic value chains. The involvement of such middlemen impede that the exporting companies have direct access to farmers and their agricultural practices. From a business perspective, this simplifies the company’s work. But at the same time, this involves considerable uncertainty and risk – especially if farmers lack expertise to cope with difficult production practices relying only on organic inputs. In contrast, with a partnership model, as illustrated in the figure, not only the Turkish exporting company but also the buying foreign company are closer to the farmers, and can thus mitigate risks by investing into farmers’ capacities and best practices relating to both production and post harvest practices.
    In the organic export business, closeness to farmers is crucial. Therefore, a partnership model is most appropriate. However, where cooperatives and local traders function well, also the “generic model” can be suitable. The bottom line is that foreign companies have a Turkish supplier that is absolutely trustworthy, and who is willing and able to share and discuss also “critical information”, to be able to understand and solve problems. Worlée’s experience shows how important such cooperation is to mitigate risks.
    Note: There is more information on Worlée’s experience to work in Turkey in the next section.
  • 5. Roles and Responsibilities within Integrated Organic Value Chains

    Roles and Responsibilities within Integrated Organic Value Chains
    Integrated organic value chains are characterized by a very functional collaboration among actors involved, and that activities are defined from a market-oriented perspective. In other words, all actors must be committed to work towards the same goal: to produce and guarantee optimal quality, as requested by the targeted market.
    • Buying foreign company
    Foreign companies must be aware of the relevance to closely collaborate with a national partner company in sourcing organic produce in Turkey. In this regard, it is essential that production and post harvest technologies are agreed as part of quality assurance (QA) discussions, and farmers are seen as partners and clients receiving adequate support in different areas. Support measures may relate to capacity building activities, but also to prefinancing of the harvest or access to organic inputs. From a strategic point of view, the buying company must forsee changes in the international market and anticipate innovations in regard to production and post harvest activities to improve and ensure product quality.  
    • Turkish partner company
    For an international trading company, it is essential to have a trustworthy local/national partner company managing agricultural production and required post-harvest activities. This company usually holds the organic certificates for both the primary production and the involved processing- and trading infrastructure. In other words, besides having own storage and processing facilities, it actively coordinates and monitors primary production based on oral or written agreements with individual or associated farmers. By doing so, it ensures buying companies that primary production is of good quality, while minimizing the risk that farmers might use not-allowed inputs such as synthetic pesticides or mineral fertilizers. Overall, this Turkish partner company has the full responsibility to spot difficulties in regard to quality assurance and raise these for discussion with involved farmers and, if necessary, with buying companies. Special actions taken may be communicated to also justify slight price increases.
    • Producing farmers
    As farm holdings are small in Turkey, a commercial business tends to involve dozens of farmers. To make the work easier for the Turkish partner company, farmers should ideally be organized, formally – as an association – or informally. In an organized farmer-group, a few elected farmers will serve as contact persons for company representatives, making it easier for the company to discuss and agree on support measures and on how to overcome any problem that may come up. In any case, important will be that producer groups have in place an own extension system, which is supported from the side of the Turkish partner company and potentially from the foreign buyer. Good communication based on mutual trust is key for an effective collaboration. Experience of Worlée NaturProdukte GmbH Worlée is a German company with more than 150 years of experience in trading chemical, natural and cosmetic raw materials. Since its foundation in 1851, the family company has been active in the international market for raw materials. Today, Worlée’s business success very much relates to a sound internal quality assurance system which is based on solid partnerships with companies supporting sourcing activities abroad. In the case of Turkey, this is of special importance given the risk of contamination in case individual farmers use not-allowed inputs or use equipment and infrastructure that was previously used for conventional produce. Thus, a solid partnership with a Turkish partner company is of utmost importance.

    Click on the picture to directly learn from Worlée’s Quality Assurance Manager, Dr. Norbert Kolb, how the company is working in Turkey to ensure food safety and traceability.

  • 6. Organic Certification and Control Bodies in Turkey

    Organic Certification and Control Bodies in Turkey
    To be active in Turkey, control bodies must be approved by MoFAL and be accredited by the Competent Authority (TÜRKAK). At present, in 2016, 28 different organic control bodies are authorized in Turkey, from which several are also listed as EU equivalent control bodies according to Regulation (EC) No 1235/2008. More information about accreditation is available under http://www.turkak.org.tr

    Mustafa Avci from Ecocert Turkey is involved in the organic Turkish sector for more than 20 years. He knows regulations and procedures inside out. Click on the picture to know more about the situation of organic situation in Turkey.

    Organic Input List
    A challenge for organic agriculture in Turkey is to provide farmers with information about the products they can use in regard to crop protection and plant nutrition. Many famers are not familiar with the products available, and which are allowed according to the organic regulations. In other countries such as Germany, Switzerland and Austria, lists of permitted products are compiled by experts. In the scope of the German-Turkish cooperating project on organic agriculture, in 2015, under the leadership of ETO, a similar list was developed for the Turkish organic sector. This work gave a first overview what products are available and allowed in Turkey for organic production.
    ETO is presently developing a more comprehensive online input database and will make it available through its own website.
  • 7. Contamination Risk and Mitigation Action

    17sayfa Contamination Risk and Mitigation Action
    In general, contamination risks relating to pesticide residues are a mayor issue when trading organic produce from Turkey. These are highly specific for each commodity supply chain. Yet, overall, intensive crops such as sultanas and apricots have a higher risk of pesticide residue than more extensively farmed crops such as hazelnuts. Most important common denominators relate to the following factors:
    • Drift
    As many conventionally grown crops are cultivated with heavy pesticide use, drift from adjacent fields is a real threat to organic producers. -> If possible, organic crops should be grown in areas where no or very little pesticides are applied in surrounding fields.
    • Limited know-how
    As most organic crops are grown by small-scale farmers, the level of education is low and the organic principles and techniques are little understood. Therefore, the organic crop is frequently not well managed, increasing the risk that pesticides are used when diseases and pests appear. -> Buying companies are urged to put in place a good extension and monitoring system, with clear rules to punish those using illicit substances. Curricula should involve training in organic soil-, fertility, pest- and disease, crop- and product-care management.
    • Use of contaminated equipment
    Because farmers in Turkey have commonly limited access to land, they tend to lend equipment from each other. Here, if not borrowing such equipment from other organic farmers, the contamination risk is very high. Very common is contamination through using spraying-, harvesting, and storage equipment that is also used in conventional production. Good cleaning might work out in some equipment, but a certain risk of contamination remains. -> The use of borrowed or hired equipment must be carefully supervised. Ideally, equipment should only be used for organic production!
    • Limited separation of organic produce
    Also the use of infrastructure that is used for conventional produce is a high risk factor, as contamination can easily occur even with good cleaning. As different infrastructure is used along the supply chain, the longer the supply chains, i.e. the number of intermediate steps before the product is ready to be exported, the higher is the risk of contamination. -> The supply chains should be kept short and infrastructure be used that is only used for organic produce. Supply chains should be organized such that each actor has clear responsibilities, which can easily be monitored as part of a quality-assurance and traceability system.

    Establishment of a Sound Traceability System
    In the Turkish context, where organic produce is mostly sourced from dozens of farmers, the involved trading companies must implement a sound traceability- and product-flow separation system, for two main reasons:
    • To know the origin of different produce
    Organic certification requires the tracking of organic produce back to individual farmers or farmer groups and the strict separation of conventional and organic raw material and produce during production, processing and trading. Traceability is also important for quality assurance reasons. By taking and analyzing samples at different stages along the supply chain, the contamination source can be tracked back to its origin.
    • To reduce the fraud risk with conventional produce
    As certification documents anticipate harvest volumes of individual farmers, in case of lower yields, there is a risk that non-organic produce enters the organic supply-chain. Thus, a traceability system helps to mitigate the risk that farmers or middleman include non-organic produce.
  • 8. Videos