Field Days Fair: A learning experience for family farmers in Turkey
FAO introduced family farmers to integrated crop and pest management methods and the Farmer Field Schools approach
During the four-day fair (21- 25 May 2014, Izmir, Turkey), in cooperation with Garanti Bank, FAO Representation in Turkey launched small workshops for participant farmers with the purpose of introducing integrated crop and pest management (IPM) methods and the Farmer Field Schools (FFS) approach.
The workshops were delivered by two FAO consultants who have worked on the project “Promotion of Integrated Crop and Pest Management in vegetables, fruit orchards and grapes in Turkey”. Up until now, this project has reached seven provinces in Turkey, including 51 counties and 4,000 growers.
“We give importance to knowledge sharing and experience capitalization,” said Mustapha Sinaceur, FAO Representative of Turkey, in his opening speech delivered at the fair. “FAO, as an organization that is continuously learning, put this ideal into practice by sharing environmentally, economically and socially sustainable methods. These have been tested and validated as successful and deserve to be shared so that a large number of farmers can adopt them.”
IPM practices shared with family farmers
One of the major problems with pesticide use in Turkey is farmers' lack of knowledge on the subject. There are still problems with the overuse or misuse of pesticides and chemical fertilizers, which result in the deterioration of the environment and irreversible impacts.
Growers tend to use synthetic pesticides instead of alternative control methods. Very few farmers have embraced sustainable methods like the use of biological control agents and biotechnical methods including use of yellow sticky traps and pheromones. Training as well as raising awareness on IPM practices are key components in addressing these concerns and are carried out at events related to the project such as the Field Days Fair.
In addition to related FAO publications, promotional material on family farming was also available at FAO stands in order to stress the vast potential that family farmers have in the eradication of hunger and preservation of natural resources. “We recognize the important contribution that family farming and smallholder farming can play in providing food security and eradicating poverty in the attainment of the internationally agreed development goals”, said Sinaceur.
Pointing out the importance of collaborative action plans with governments, international organizations, civil society organizations and the private sector, “the IYFF gives us a clear opportunity to further highlight the strategic role of family farmers in agricultural and rural development and strengthen their capacities” he added.
Along with continuous training and presentations on biological and biotechnological control methods, farmers also has access to FAO manual books on vegetables, fruits and grapes that were published with the purpose of providing practical information for farmers.
A project with long-term goals
The project ultimately aims to promote Farmer Field Schools as an efficient tool for training farmers and implement integrated pest management throughout the country. Despite the fact that the project was concluded in 2013, activities conducted at the fair demonstrate the long-term aims and sustainability of the project. This is just the beginning of an ongoing process of education and knowledge sharing that looks to the future of family farming in Turkey.