Story No 12:

Why is organic agriculture important to the region?

Dr. Nusret Mutlu explains...

Southeast Anatolia is one of the most socially and economically underdeveloped regions in Turkey. According to the State Planning Organization, the Region is the second least developed region in Turkey. A considerable portion of the economic output of the Region is derived from agriculture and trade. Although the region is endowed with favorable natural conditions (good soils, abundant fresh water), most of the income generation in the region is concentrated around the value-adding farming and processing. These same favorable conditions create great potential for organic production with higher value addition which could benefit sustainable development in the Region. However, this potential has not yet been realised.

As part of the UNDP Competitiveness Agenda, an Organic Agriculture Cluster in Southeast Anatolia is being developed to mobilize the organic production potential. The Competitiveness Agenda has been developed by UNDP in collaboration with the Turkish Government (GAP RDA) within the scope of the EU-funded GAP-GIDEM (Entrepreneurship Support Centers) Project. (Note: GAP stands for ‘South Eastern Anatolian Project’, a multi-sectoral and integrated Turkish regional development project based on the concept of sustainable development).

Why is organic agriculture important to the region?

The purpose of the Project is to increase the international competitiveness of the organic agriculture sector in the Region (especially in Sanliurfa) and improve the local business environment by establishing an Innovation and Information Centre, extending best practices (trials and demonstrations), building local capacity, and promoting the Region nationally and internationally.

How far have we come?

The first year of the project was spent in detailed field analysis and collecting comprehensive background information on the current status of the organic sector in the GAP Region. Detailed value chain analyses on selected products, study tours of international best practice, and the preparation of roadmap studies incorporating detailed a competitiveness analysis were completed by the end of 2011.

With the introduction of the Organic Agriculture Cluster Initiative Roadmap, the Project’s Southeast Anatolia Organic Cluster will focus on developing effective collaboration through Working Groups on Organic Cotton, Organic Food, Branding and Promotion as well as Institutional Capacity Building. In parallel, pilot studies will create success stories which can ve replicated in a sustainable manner. An Organic Agriculture Innovation Centre will provide consultancy, information and training services to support infrastructure in production and marketing capabilities. There will be eight pilot activities supported in 2012 and 2013. In early 2012, the Organic Cluster Management Board has been set up with the participation of all relevant cluster actors. The five Working Groups, which will be the operating structure of the Project, are also on the way to become fully operational.  



Dr. Nusret Mutlu
General Coordinator, Economic Development Unit
Southeastern Anatolia Project
Regional Development Administration


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