Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

16 October 2022

World Food Day

Gürsel Appa

“Our strength as women lies in our ability to bring out the talents within us and in combining our strengths.”
23/09/2022

Türkiye

In Türkiye, Gürsel Appa has become a successful role model for women farmers, demonstrating how women’s empowerment in agriculture is key to sustainable development. 

Gürsel lives in the Gümüldür region of İzmir, an area famous for its tangerines. In August 2021, she established the Turuncu Eller Agricultural Development Cooperative together with other women farmers, which today consists of 12 women. Their brand “Gümoz“recalls the origin of the member farmers who come from either Gümüldür or Özdere.  

Turuncu Eller Cooperative's products are made from geographically identified (GI) Satsuma tangerines and are marketed as value-added products. GI labelling links food products with specific characteristics, qualities or reputations stemming from their geographical origin and it has proven to be economically and socially beneficial to rural areas, promoting sustainable development. Consumers are often willing to pay higher prices for products they associate with superior taste and quality.  

“The technical equipment and cooperative training have sped up our development”, says Gürsel as she considers how they are already experiencing the benefits offered by this EU-funded FAO project. “Now we feel more confident.” 

Gürsel spends most of her time working in the cooperative. During their meetings, the members share the difficulties they face and discuss new ideas. According to Gürsel, the biggest challenge is climate change. 

“As farmers, we feel the effects of climate change. The efficiency of our products is decreasing, and these losses hurt us financially. The reason why climate change is our biggest challenge is that the solution is not in our hands. We experience forest fires each year. The steps that the government will take to prevent this crisis are vital because they will not only affect our lives today but also have an impact for centuries to come.” she said. 

The COVID-19 pandemic also had a negative impact on the cooperative.  but it encouraged Gürsel and her friends to start selling their products online. “The pandemic taught us the importance of digitalization”, she explains.  

Gürsel aims to distribute the cooperative’s products worldwide. “My biggest dream is to become an inspiration to women living in small regions like myself.”