In Southeastern Turkey, agriculture is the only source of income for many poor farmers. Luckily, the climate in the region is ideal for growing many agricultural products, including pistachios. Farmers have been cultivating the plant in Turkey for centuries; however traditional pistachio cultivation techniques in Turkey are outdated, leaving many pistachio producers at a disadvantage in the marketplace. To illustrate, a 25-30 year-old pistachio tree in Turkey yields an average of 15 pounds of pistachios per year, whereas a tree in the U.S. yields 40-44 pounds!
In June 2010, HasNa welcomed six pistachio farmers, two government officials, and two farm extension workers to its Pistachio Farmers Training Program 2010. The program exposed the participants to modern pistachio farming techniques in the U.S., which they will be able to use to improve their pistachio yield when they return to Turkey. Another one of our program goals is bringing people together from diverse backgrounds to promote cross-cultural understanding. To accomplish this goal we design programs that empower individuals and teach them new skills to get them to cooperate and work together, which was the case with this program.
The two-week program began in Washington, DC on June 6th and finished in California on June 18th. In DC, the farmers had opportunities to explore the potential benefits of farm cooperatives, develop their abilities to resolve conflicts, improve their business marketing skills, and go on cultural tours.
In California, the program focused exclusively on pistachio production and processing. HasNa worked with the University of California’s Kearney Agricultural Research Center near Fresno to design a training program that addressed all stages of pistachio production. During a week filled with in-depth seminars on growing and harvesting pistachios and visits to pistachio orchards, nurseries and processing plants, experts in the field shared both their knowledge and experience.
- Visited Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative Association
- Met with Vikas Choudhary, agricultural specialist at World Bank
- Attended marketing seminar with Hatice Murphy, Infuze International
- Took part in cultural visits
- Participated in a conflict resolution seminar run by Center for Dispute Settlement
- Visited multiple pistachio nurseries and orchards
- Visited multiple pistachio processing plants
- Attended seminars on budding, pruning, harvesting, processing, pest and disease control, rootstock production, and nutrient deficiency
- Developed and presented action plans to apply lessons learned
The 2010 program exposed the participants to modern techniques that will help them improve their productivity, yields, profit margins, and their livelihoods. Ultimately, participants were equipped with the knowledge and skills to share what they learned with other farmers to help them improve their productivity upon their return to Turkey. This increased the impact of the training from solely the individual level to that of the entire region. Participants developed and presented in-depth action plans at the end of the program to achieve these goals:
- use improved technology to increase yields
- build stronger cooperatives to strengthen farmers in Turkey
- use rootstock in orchards to improve disease resistance of trees
- develop educational programs for farmers in Turkey
How You Can Help
Agriculture is a crucially important sector for many in rural Turkey, as well as a potential area of cooperation between diverse community members. If you would like to support programs such as this, please make a donation or contact us to get involved.