Citrus Farmers Training Program
Agriculture is a major source of income in Southern Turkey. In the province of Mersin, many farmers cultivate citrus fruits using traditional agricultural techniques inherited from their ancestors. Farm lands are also inherited and farms are divided into smaller and smaller plots each generation. Furthermore, some farmers do not have the business skills to effectively access domestic and international markets.
Modern farming techniques have the potential to raise productivity levels by making better use of the land and improve the quality of citrus crops. Business skills can help farmers more effectively brand and position their products to access wider domestic and international markets.
One of HasNa’s main goals is to have participants share the knowledge they gain with others in their communities. Another goal is to help participants learn to cooperate and work together. To accomplish this, HasNa integrates communication and conflict resolution training into every one of its programs.
HasNa designed the Citrus Farmers Training Program to provide education on modern farming techniques and business skills to citrus farmers from Southern Turkey. Citrus farmers traveled to Florida in summer 2011 to learn modern citrus farming techniques, business fundamentals, and communication skills. HasNa selected leading farmers from Mersin, Turkey with the help of our local NGO Partner, the Mezitli Agriculture and Nature Association. The farmers committed to sharing the citrus farming techniques and business skills that they learned during the program with other farmers upon their return to Turkey.
Due to the success of the first training program in 2011 as well as the continuing demands of Turkish farmers to have another training in the United States, three years later HasNa brought another group of citrus farmers from Mersin to California for training. HasNa’s second Citrus Farmers’ Training Program took place between August 31 and September 14, 2014.
Citrus Farmers’ Training Program (2011)
HasNa selected 12 citrus farmers from Mersin and they traveled to Washington, DC and Florida between June 19 and July 2, 2011 to learn modern citrus farming techniques, business fundamentals, and communication skills.
In Washington, DC the program focused on business fundamentals and communication skills. Participants received conflict resolution training from the Center for Dispute Settlement. They also learned strategic planning skills from Robert Wise, a business consultant, and attended a marketing seminar with Hatice Murphy from Infuze International, a strategic marketing and trade promotion consulting firm. The participants visited the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center and the National Academies Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources, to discuss emerging research topics in agriculture.
In Florida, the program covered almost every aspect of citrus production and highlighted the collaborative efforts between farming, government, and research institutions in the United States. Participants traveled to the Indian River Citrus Area, where grapefruit farming is prevalent, to learn about water management and irrigation. They spent two days at the University of Florida Citrus Research and Education Center, the largest citrus research facility in the world, which is developing new varieties of citrus fruits. The participants attended seminars on disease and pest control at the center. Participants visited orange groves in the Southwest Florida Citrus Area to see modern farming techniques in practice.
Citrus Farmers’ Training Program (2014)
HasNa’s second Citrus Farmers’ Training Program took place between August 31 and September 14, 2014. HasNa selected another group of 12 citrus farmers from Mersin and Adana, with the help of our local NGO partner NATURELDER. Similar to the first program, the citrus farmers spent their first five days in Washington D.C. and received training on communication & conflict resolution skills which is the trademark training provided by HasNa to all of its program participants. After that, the group visited the Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources at the National Academies and attended presentations about the most recent research on citrus production and citrus diseases in the United States. A special session on marketing strategies was designed for the Turkish citrus growers in order to expand their vision on marketing their products domestically and internationally.
Starting from September 6, the group spent 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. During their field trips, the Turkish citrus farmers were lectured by academics, citrus experts, and farm extension agents working within the UC Cooperative Extension system. The group received training on citrus cultivation and citrus diseases.
These program exposed participants to modern citrus farming techniques in the U.S. which will help them improve their productivity, crop quality, profit margins, and ultimately their livelihoods. Participants also learned business fundamentals to help them more effectively brand and position their products to access wider domestic and international markets. At the end of each program, the participants developed action plans that utilized the knowledge gained during the program to apply to their farming operations, business strategies, and to ultimately share their knowledge with others. HasNa carefully selects leader farmers who are willing to take on the responsibility of showing what they have learned in the U.S. 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.
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