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Turkey’s Progressive Farmers’ Working Groups, celebrate 30th anniversary
ÖÇP Önder Çiftçi Projesi, formerly known as Progressive Farmers’ Working Groups, Turkey, celebrated its 30th anniversary in the Turkish town Karaevli (near Tekirdağ) in late August 2017. The event was part of the 7th DLG-ÖÇP-field exhibition “Tarım ve Teknoloji Günleri 2017”.
The Progressive Farmers’ Working Groups, Turkey, were established in 1987 as a mutual project of the German Agricultural Society (DLG), Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ), and the Union of Turkish Chambers of Agriculture (TZOB). Based on a concept designed by DLG and in co-operation with the TZOB, it was decided to establish the joint project in the Turkish region of Thrace. The project was supported scientifically by the University of Ankara. The core objective was the introduction/implementation of a tailor-made participative advisory system to assist individual farmers – the members of the Progressive Farmers Working Groups – in their efforts to develop their farm operations and businesses autonomously, independently and self supportively.
The project, which was run from 1986 to 1996, assisted farmers joining the initiative in the Thrace region in the foundation of four working groups, each of which had around 150 members. The German project team coached the farmers’ working groups in the formation of a steering committee, the election of speakers for each working group and an additional board representing the interests of all working groups together. In addition, a legal framework was elaborated (and legally acknowledged) to ensure their independent work and self-help status. Each working group employs its own agricultural advisor whose responsibility it is to solely provide advice to “his” farmers’ working group.
On conclusion of the project in 1996 and the corresponding end of project financing, the ÖÇP farmers were in a position to continue their working groups, supported by membership fees, as well as their own business activities, such as seed multiplication, in a self-sustainable, independent and self-responsible manner. The development of the working groups has resulted in an advisory system assisting the member farmers in independent entrepreneurial activities in order to successfully implement innovations and make enterprises viable.
Today, ÖÇP runs an insurance company, a seed firm, an agricultural trade company and, of course, its own consultancy firm that is held in high esteem throughout Turkey.
In terms of expertise, the DLG has continued to support and advise “its Turkish farmers”, and a firm partnership has evolved out of which further collaborative schemes have developed. Having started as a technical assistance project between Germany and Turkey, ÖÇP can now be regarded as a success story in international technical co-operation.
Karl-Martin Lüth, DLG Senior Consultant
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