Turkey is a major producer and exporter of organic produce. Approximately 2% of the total agricultural area or 510.000 ha is certified organic. Organic agriculture in Turkey has gained in importance especially after the coming into force of the Turkish Organic Regulation in 1994 and the Law on Organic Farming in 2004, as well as a regulation on subsidies for organic farming. Since then, the certified area doubled and the number of organic certified farmers grew from 10.000- to 40.000. Turkey is particularly suitable for the production of organic crops, a wide variety of climates and soils, a well-developed agro-infrastructure (irrigation), low pest and disease pressure and comparatively low labor costs.
Turkey is important for its production of organic foods for the EU and, in particular, for the German market. 12% of all imports of organic products into the EU originate from Turkey. Main export products in organic quality are nuts and dried fruits including raisins, apricots and figs but also pulses, fresh fruits and organic cotton are important items. The fact, that the Turkish organic regulation is fully harmonized with EU Regulation 834/2007 is an asset. There is still considerable potential for further expansion, both on the domestic as well as on the export market.
Organic farming in Turkey started around 1984 with raisins and dried figs, which are among the traditional export crops of the country. Apart from the Organic Agriculture Regulation, which was issued in 1994 and the first National Organic Agriculture Symposium in 1999, organic farming did not achieve significant progress until the year 2000. From this time onward, various national and international projects encouraged production and share of technical knowledge among farmers and stakeholders. On the national market, organic products started to appear on the shelves of some supermarkets and small groceries, however consumers awareness was still low. Until today, organic farming in Turkey is still very much export oriented, however thanks to the support policies of the government and strong efforts of various NGOs, the domestic market is also growing steadily. Today, in addition to farmers producing under contract with exporters, there are growers who are directly certified and offer their organic products to consumers in open farmer markets, which have become one of the main sales points for organic products in Turkey.
More information on the organic sector in Turkey can be found here: http://www.ifoam-eu.org/en/turkey