Home / Agricultural Economy / Agribusiness / DR. MELTEM ONAY; LOOKING AT THE AGRICULTURAL ECOSYSTEM FROM A SYSTEM PERSPECTIVE

DR. MELTEM ONAY; LOOKING AT THE AGRICULTURAL ECOSYSTEM FROM A SYSTEM PERSPECTIVE

Systems approach theory offers us some opportunities to look at issues from two perspectives. The first of these deals with the internal actors of the event and reveals the relationship between them. The other is; Taking into account the external actors of the event, it shows to what extent the connections between these actors affect the internal actors. Although this may seem a bit complicated, if you have internal and external actors

If we do not evaluate them together, the recommendations we propose as a result will either become undirected or cause the system to stop.

While reading Doktar Firm’s report titled “Farmer’s pulse” (2020) in the past few days, I remembered which mistakes were made among the reasons for the failure of the plans that have been tried to be made in the agricultural sector for years. I asked myself these questions:

-Have we defined the “internal actors” of the sector and the relationship between these actors correctly?

-Who are the “external actors” of the sector, how were the relations between these actors?

-Did we establish the relationship between the “internal and external actors” of the sector correctly?

As everyone agrees, there is currently a serious bottleneck, namely entropy, in the agricultural sector. In my opinion, over the years, it has been tried to find solutions by taking into account the internal dynamics of the sector. It was very difficult to manage the system, as there was usually no connection between these dynamics. On the other hand, there were also external players who influenced this system. Each of these players was influencing factors within the system. Since we could not see or relate to them, it was not possible for us to realize the expected productivity, success and innovative work in agricultural areas.

 To give examples;

-People engaged in agriculture in our country are leaving the sector day by day. The average age of people currently engaged in agriculture is about 55. These people continue agriculture with experience-based farming methods, that is, inherited from their fathers.

-A large part of our soil has become acidified and unproductive due to improper spraying and fertilization.

– Since the farmers did not look closely at the issue of cooperatives and the existing cooperatives were not managed successfully, the chain between the producer and the consumer was managed by the merchants, and as a result, the income of the farmer was very low.

-There are approximately 47 agricultural faculties in our country, and the transfer of information could not be done correctly due to the fact that the agricultural engineers who graduated from these schools were not able to establish a bridge between the engineer and the farmer, as well as the outdated education methods they received.

– Institutions such as cooperatives, agricultural chambers and non-governmental organizations in the country have become “toys” of political games.

– In universities, academicians doing scientific research were not supported, hundreds of researches were put on the shelves.

– In agriculture, it was too late to switch to digital technology, and because the current situation is not clearly defined, it has become unmanageable.

Foreign dependency has increased day by day and it has become an import-oriented agricultural country.

All this had to be said “stop” somewhere. Because, on the one hand, a crisis that affects the world in the same way, such as the “climate crisis and drought”, is pushing our limits. A serious reform movement is needed in the agricultural sector, which causes the most greenhouse gas emissions. In other words, there is a need for a more objective, plain and clear perspective on the system from the inside and outside.

The agreement that will lead us to a rapid reform implementation in the agriculture and food sector today will be the “Green Agreement” approved by the European Union. For this reason, this report published by Doktar Company is a very remarkable study in terms of evaluating the current situation of the “farmers”, who are the internal actors of the agricultural sector, as of 2010. Let’s take a look at this report together:

1) Income and Investment Rates

No matter in which sector we consider the person working, if the person working does not receive the reward of his labor that year; either he does not continue that business after a year, that is, he quits the farming profession or does not invest in this field.

According to the results of the research conducted with 3000 producers in 81 provinces, 462 districts, the proportion of farmers whose cultivation areas decreased is higher than those whose cultivation areas increased. This situation shows that a serious decrease is observed in the incomes of our farmers engaged in agriculture in Turkey. This rate is 54% in vegetable and fruit producer, 50% in grain producer and 51% in industrial agriculture producer. This is a pretty serious problem.

The manufacturer will either give up or continue. In the survey, when the sample group was asked a question about “how they think to increase their income if they continue production”, among the answers given; There are “planting new crops, raising livestock, turning to non-agricultural activities, increasing cultivation areas, reducing input costs, producing in greenhouses, turning to products with low input costs and quitting farming”.

 Among these options, “breeding livestock” was the most preferred option. While trying to find an answer to the question of whether it will create an “increase in income” for the farmers to consider doing animal husbandry while doing plant agriculture, other questions arise. For example;

How much effort does our farmer make to reduce input costs while he expects an increase in income?

-Or do they know methods to reduce input costs?

-Can the agricultural engineers working in the Chambers of Agriculture, Provincial Directorate of Agriculture, who are expected to assist them in these matters, guide them?

If the truth of the answers to these questions is not clearly explained, future plans will be doomed to fail, as always.

In the survey, when the sample group was asked which subjects they invested in money during the year, the first response was “tractor and equipment purchase” and the second was “irrigation system”.

The fact that every farmer has his own tractor in our country is an indicator of prestige in the village where he lives. This attitude has not changed over the years. Although it is not preferable for the farmer to continue to invest in tractors today, when the use of digital technologies in agriculture is recommended, it is very pleasing that the number of farmers investing in the second-ranking “irrigation system” has increased. Considering that by 2020, we will be among the “water poor countries”, the determination of the farmer to use “dripping water” instead of “wild irrigation” will be a very conscious choice. With the support of the Ministry of Agriculture, the increase in the demand of many farmers to benefit from these grants is a very promising situation for the future of the agricultural sector.

2) Planning and Budgeting

In the past, when we were studying in primary school, we were asked to make a “daily schedule” before going on summer vacation. We used to write what we would do from the time of departure in the morning until we went to bed in the evening. The purpose here was to ensure that we become a disciplined, organized and planned person. Presumably, as the Turkish people, we are a country that does not like to act in a planned manner in many areas. A person who has a plan knows which direction to go because he knows what to do, and he succeeds in going to the goal he wants with sure steps.

A farmer who is planned in this direction is expected to make a production plan from the beginning of the year and follow it. In this way, he will not encounter unexpected surprises and can balance his budget.

In the research conducted; More than half of the 3000 farmers said that they did not keep a “regular cost account”.

During and after the production stage, one of the issues that a farmer should determine beforehand is his predictions about whom he will sell his product to. Because the farmer will be able to earn income only if he sells all his produce.

Within the scope of the research, the farmers were asked “to whom they sell their products”. Among the answers given;

 We learn that the small farmer produces only for himself, while the large farmers sell their crops to institutions and factories. Contract farmers, on the other hand, are at a lower level in Turkey. These data show us that there are quite a few differences between farmer profiles.

In order for the farmer to gain more from the product he produces, he must store his product for a certain period of time, that is, present it when the market wants it. For this, it needs a “warehouse”.

In the research, 3000 farmers were asked about the usage rates of “licensed warehouse”. Only 6% of the farmers who participated in the survey said that they used licensed warehousing, while 70% said that they had no knowledge about it.

  Considering these two questions asked in the survey, I would like to ask one more question:

– Who is responsible for the announcement, organization, support and incentives of the warehouse system that will bring such great advantages to our farmers? Why has this responsibility not been fulfilled?

3. Our Soil/Water Quality and Drought

A large part of the country’s land has weakened in terms of “organic matter” and has become unproductive due to the use of excessive chemicals and fertilizers. First of all, it is necessary to determine the condition of the agricultural lands in the whole country, to make soil analyzes, to determine the necessary recipes and to explain them to the farmers, and to improve the soil in a planned manner.

Imagine you go to a doctor, the doctor first sends you to a laboratory to make a comment about you, and according to the results of the blood test, he gives you a prescription. Currently, our country’s lands need solutions offered by agronomists. According to this;

– Where are our farmers who noticed this situation?

-Have current situation analyzes been made in order to find solutions on this issue?

-Are studies carried out on these issues in both universities and agricultural institutions?

In the study, we learn that 68% of 3000 farmers did not have a “soil analysis”. If an increase in productivity is expected in agriculture, first of all, our soils should be enriched with organic matter. We think that the people who explain these issues to our farmers are our agricultural engineers working in the field. So where are they and what are they doing? If he is telling and the farmer is not listening, where is the problem?

Climate crisis and drought are important issues in the coming years. How knowledgeable are the farmers on this subject? Are they given training on what they can do? In the survey, 20% of the farmers said that they did not know about climate change. So what does drought and climate change mean for the farmer?

When farmers were asked in the survey what the “effects of climate change” were, their responses included:

There are “decrease in the amount of precipitation, change of seasons, increase in temperature, global warming and natural disasters”.

Undoubtedly, although the survey questions are not a survey of what farmers are doing to address the climate crisis, farmers are not yet aware of their role in the creation of this crisis.

Finally, one of the striking titles of the survey is related to the recycling of agricultural wastes. 90% of the farmers who participated in the survey said that they did not have any information about what to do about this issue. Although large-income farmers say that they are more sensitive about recycling waste, small farmers are unconscious and their awareness level is very low.

4. Result

Known for its sensitivity on environmental and social sustainability issues, especially on the topics such as combating climate change, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and using renewable energy since 1990, the European Union took these sensitivities one step further in November 2019 and decided that final and ambitious decisions would be implemented. presented a package of initiatives for The Green Deal offers a new “growth strategy” aimed at zeroing net greenhouse gas emissions (climate neutral) by 2050, decoupling economic growth and leaving no one and no region behind. According to this convention, all countries will create jobs and improve the quality of life while reducing their own emissions. Within the scope of defined targets, this growth strategy; 1) clean energy, 2) sustainable industry, 3) construction and renovation, 4) establishment of a fair, clean and environmentally friendly food system from farm to fork, 5) elimination of pollution, 6) sustainable mobility, 7) bio-diversity.

So why is the Green Deal important?

In my opinion, this agreement is a serious opportunity for Turkish agriculture and food industry. In order to make good use of this opportunity, it is necessary to be objective. It is necessary to make strategic plans by seeing the system as a whole and defining the relationships between the parts of this system.

If the Green Deal is to be seen as a “climate pact”, there is a need for a cooperation pact at the level of all Ministries in our country. In this direction, the Ministry of Agriculture, Energy, Environment and Trade should evaluate the available data and provide a “common consensus”. Over the years, this country has been a country that stagnates without taking the right steps, and even regresses with each passing day, amid “non-communication problems”.

A common “agriculture-food policy” should be established among all institutions. This policy should also be accepted as a “Government policy”. Then, over the years, in order to reach the goals step by step in line with this strategy, plans should be made and the necessary mechanisms should be established for implementation.

This country is an “agricultural country” and as a successful agricultural country it should have its deserved place in the world.

With the desire to become a self-sufficient country in the journey of producing and processing climate-friendly “Agricultural and food products”.

Professor Dr. Meltem Onay,

Vice Rector

15 November Cyprus University

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About İsmail Uğural

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