Press release…

The project implemented by three UN agencies took a detailed picture of the Turkish wheat sector and prepared a road map to make the sector more resilient to crises.

Alvaro Rodriguez

The project has now come to an end and has delivered its main output – a report providing a road map to make the sector more resilient to crises. The closing meeting of the project, held this week, was attended by project partners and stakeholders, and shared the summary results of the report. Representing months of work, the report provides a detailed overview of the most important wheat production areas of Türkiye.

Viorel Gutu

Delivering the opening speech of the meeting, FAO Sub-regional Coordinator for Central Asia and Türkiye, Viorel Gutu highlighted some of the recent challenges facing the wheat supply chain, notably the COVID-19 pandemic, the Russia-Ukraine war and the recent earthquakes in Türkiye. He further noted that “the project has made a thorough assessment of the socio-economic situation of the sector, and contains important findings and detailed recommendations for decision-makers.”

Mahmut Arslan, Programme Policy Officer of the World Food Programme (WFP), drew attention to the joint effort and commitment involved in producing the report, and stated that “The report will serve as a road map for improving the livelihoods of everyone in the sector.”

Taylan Kıymaz
Mahmut Arslan

Taylan Kıymaz, Programme Officer at the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) Türkiye Office, explained that IFAD will work to increase the visibility of the project and hoped “that the results will contribute to further strengthening the sector against emerging challenges.”

Alvaro Rodriguez, UN Resident Coordinator for Türkiye, highlighted the importance of the project in ensuring regional food supply stability during a period of global instability. “We are going through difficult times”, he stated, “and are not on course to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals”, adding, “but even if the global situation does not look favourable, I am hopeful about Türkiye’s progress”.

Ahmet Volkan Güngören, Director-General for European Union and Foreign Relations of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, emphasized the vital importance of food security for peace and stability: “It is not possible for peace and stability to be sustainable in a region where there is hunger. The outputs, findings and recommendations of this project, which is funded by the UN Sustainable Development Fund, provide a robust road map for all stakeholders.”

Fazıl Düşünceli
Ahmet Volkan Güngören

Following the opening speeches, Project Coordinator Erdoğan Güneş provided technical information about the underlying methodology and compilation of the project report. He was followed by FAO Senior Agriculture Specialist Fazıl Düşünceli, who shared with the participants some of the data and findings from the project, emphasizing that the project was based on field data and was a fundamentally consultative process. He also noted that the project sets a good example for other countries in the region, for whom wheat is a matter of national security. Düşünceli explained: “This study reveals that Türkiye possesses strong technical, institutional and industrial capacities to capitalize on extensive opportunities to develop the regional wheat sector, from North Africa to Central Asia. Similar projects should therefore be explored to enhance the resilience of the wheat sector, overcome emerging challenges and improve the livelihoods of rural populations.”

Dr. Erdoğan Güneş

Ravi Prakash Singh, senior adviser to the Director-General of the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT), provided a summary of the impact of international wheat improvement programmes in Türkiye over the last 40 years, which have been implemented jointly with the International Centre for Agricultural research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) and the research institutions of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry of Türkiye. He emphasized that wheat programmes in Türkiye have contributed greatly to international wheat improvement efforts and declared his happiness at seeing “such a comprehensive and collaborative assessment of the wheat sector in Türkiye, the findings of which are very exciting”.

Dr. Ravi Prakash Singh

He concluded his intervention by noting that “such collaborative studies are critical to achieving targeted goals in the wheat sector, not only in Türkiye, but in the whole region.” He continued: “If we, the research and development communities, can work together, we can achieve an annual yield increase of 2 percent or more, which can feed 400 000 more people. It is therefore essential to develop collaborative multisectoral initiatives to enhance wheat production in the region”.

About İsmail Uğural

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