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HasNa Continues to Train Turkish Citrus Farmers

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After a successful training program in 2011 for Turkish citrus farmers in Florida, HasNa is bringing another group of Turkish citrus farmers from Mersin to the United States for training. HasNa’s second Citrus Farmers’ Training Program will take place between August 31 and September 14, 2014.

Citrus is among the top exports in Turkish agricultural sector and it is also Turkey’s leading fresh fruit export according to the Turkish Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock. Neighboring countries such as Russia, Iraq, Ukraine and Saudi Arabia are the main export destinations. According to the statistics, the production of citrus in Turkey has been increasing steadily in the past 20 years. Despite this increase in citrus production, there are still important problems faced by Turkish citrus producers which prevent them from becoming competitive players in the global market, particularly with regards to processed products such as orange juice. According to the Turkish Ministry of Agriculture and Cukurova University, the lack of different citrus varieties and poor agricultural practices are the two major problems in the citrus sector. Yet, there are still no citrus-specific production support programs in Turkey. In order to increase the export potential of Turkey, the USDA has also recommended in a 2012 citrus report that Turkish agricultural researchers should help identify better varieties for export and improved horticultural practices for citrus growers.

Given Turkey’s citrus export potential, it is essential to invest in the education of citrus growers. The Mediterranean region of Turkey accounts for the 90 percent of citrus production in Turkey while the Aegean region produces the rest. Within the Mediterranean region, the primary production zone is Cukurova which is composed of three provinces: Adana, Mersin and Hatay. Investing in the training of citrus farmers and collaborating with local citrus grower organizations in order to improve current agricultural practices will not only increase the income level of Cukurova population but it will also enable Turkey to become a major player in the global citrus market. Thus since 2010, HasNa has been collaborating with citrus growers in Mersin and Adana who are also participating actively in local citrus organizations to improve both the production and marketing strategies of local growers.

HasNa’s 2011 training in Florida was successful in introducing a small group of Turkish farmers to modern horticultural techniques in the United States. Both the success of the 2011 training and the continuing demands of other citrus growers in the region motivated HasNa to design another citrus farmers’ training program in California.

This year’s citrus farmers’ training will take place between August 31 and September 14. Twelve citrus farmers from Mersin will spend their first five days in Washington DC. First, they will receive a training on communication & conflict resolution skills which is the trademark training provided by HasNa to all of its program participants. After that, the group will visit the Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources at the National Academies and hear presentations about the most recent research on citrus production and citrus diseases in the United States. A special session on marketing strategies is also designed for the Turkish citrus growers in order to expand their vision on marketing their products domestically and internationally. Before they leave Washington DC, the group will visit the National Arboretum and national historical sites in the US capital.

Starting from September 6, the group will spend 9 days in central California visiting big and small size orchards, orange juice plants as well as citrus research labs of UC Davis and UC Riverside. For this second and more technical part of the training program, HasNa collaborated with the California Citrus Research Board experts and the University of California Cooperative Extension agents. Thus, during their field trips, the Turkish citrus farmers will be trained and lectured by academics, citrus experts, and farm extension agents working within the UC Cooperative Extension system.

This training will expose Turkish citrus farmers to the most recent citrus growing techniques in the U.S. and improve their knowledge of how to deal with citrus diseases. HasNa believes that empowering farmers through training is one of the most effective ways to facilitate economic development and sustainable agriculture in Turkey. Thus, HasNa selects leader farmers who are willing to take on the responsibility of showing what they have learned in the United States to other farmers in their region. These participatory and collaborative learning methods do not only improve agriculture and regional economy but also increase social capital in developing countries like Turkey.

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