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Learning the Field: How Digital Agricultural Tools Are Improving Farmer Welfare in Turkey
Nestled between the Küçük Menderes River to the north and mountains to the south, Turkey’s Tire district in the Izmir province is known for fertile soil and a temperate climate. With characteristics like these, it’s no surprise that the area’s economy relies heavily on agricultural production and processing.
Ceylan Karaoğlan is a corn farmer in the region. Karaoğlan has been successful enough to earn a consistent living as a farmer but had no idea how much data and digital tools could boost her operations until she participated in a 1000 Farmers Endless Prosperity – a Program offered to farmers by Cargill to affect social and digital transformation in agriculture in the region.
“I realized that there is a lot I don’t know about corn,” said Karaoğlan. “The Program used a more precise measurement approach to agriculture. Thanks to the digital soil analyzer, we had the right information on fertilization. Using the results from the soil analysis, we updated our fertilizer program. We used 100 kg/ ha less fertilizer for each fertilizer type than we had used in previous years. I saw both savings and increased yields.”
Farmers like Karaoğlan who had access to the services and digital tools provided in the 1000 Farmers Endless Prosperity Program and executed all the suggested actions, reaped up to 26 percent more at harvest time. In addition, the farmers used more sustainable practices by using less water, creating less waste and operating more efficiently.
The 1000 Farmers Endless Prosperity Program launched in 2019 to support Turkish farmers in sustainable agricultural practices to increase their productivity, earnings and to support the livelihoods of the growers who serve as the first link in the food value chain. The Program offers access to and training in the latest technologies, including irrigation, fertilization and satellite-based field health monitoring. The Program includes corn and sunflower farmers across 12 provinces, impacting the equivalent to 70,000 football fields.
“This Program is a great example of how Cargill is working with farmers to improve their livelihoods. Over the past two years, we have touched lives of more than 2,200 farmers in total. In our third year, we’ve expanded the scope of our Program by also including the canola farmers,” said Murat Tarakçıoğlu, Cargill Foods Middle East, Turkey and Africa Managing Director.
Digital agricultural tools are increasingly crucial for farmers to know, but there is still limited training, especially for growers in smaller communities. A social-digital transformation is necessary to increase profitability and agricultural yields. The farmers’ training and digitalization activities in agriculture are the foundation to transform sustainable agriculture practices – and not just locally but globally.
By focusing on community farms, the Program increased the farmers’ income and nutrition while increasing the protection of natural resources. This Program, and programs like it, have an important place in ensuring future generations' health and happiness. It shows the value of supporting the people who power the agricultural system – at every level.