Heroically Organic

Erzurum in East Turkey is one of the country’s poorest provinces, afflicted by harsh winters and torrid summers. And this is where Nazmi Ilicali started up Daphan Plains Organic Agriculture in 1996.

It was clear to him that this was the ideal place for the project: “The earth in this area is especially suitable, because the local population is so poor that for years they have been unable to afford chemical fertilizers. The climate is good for organic farming too. The frost and cold even kill the eggs laid in the earth by insects, so there is no need for pesticides – we have a totally chemical-free soil”.

Daphan produces organic wheat, rye, barley, white beans, lentils and other legumes and involves 3,000 farmers in the Erzurum area. The success of the initiative has sparked worldwide interest. Last year the American Ashoka Entrepreneur Trust presented the project with an award for social entrepreneurship and this month a delegation from Japan came to visit.

The Turkish government has also show interested in Nazmi’s project and has initiated a collaboration to counteract the exodus of farmers from the countryside to Istanbul. The city and Daphan have signed an agreement in which the city pledges to buy 10,000 tons of wheat for public bakeries, at a total value of $625,000.

Kadir Topbas, head of the Istanbul council, said: “We supply Istanbul residents with access to organic bread as a result and we plan to help these areas to market all their produce in the future. The success of these projects has resulted in more that 1,000 families leaving Istanbul and returning to their home villages”.

Source: Asia Times

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