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Türkiye’s first “agro-library” opened in Uşak

New facility in Banaz, established with UNDP support, will combine theory with practice to promote eco-friendly agriculture 

Banaz, 7 November 2022 – The Banaz district of Uşak province celebrated the opening of Türkiye’s first agro-library on 7 November 2022 with workshops for schoolchildren on baking bread, painting birdhouses and assembling “seed bombs” for planting gardens. The facility, hosted at the Banaz District Public Library, was launched thanks to a partnership between the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Kütüp-Anne Platform. 

The festive opening was attended by Uşak Governor Turan Ergün, Banaz District Governor Musa Aydemir, Provincial Director of Culture and Tourism Sabri Ceylan and Banaz Mayor Zafer Arpacı.

Louisa Vinton

“The beauty of the agro-library is that it combines the traditional functions of a library with a practical opportunity for residents to test new agricultural practices in the garden,” said UNDP Resident Representative Louisa Vinton. “At a time when hunger is on the rise globally and climate change poses a daily threat, efforts like this to promote green lifestyles are vital.”

The agro-library was one of the 10 winners of the Social Innovation Challenge organized by the UNDP Türkiye Accelerator Lab in 2021. The concept stood out among 422 applicants owing to its successful incorporation of almost all of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. 

“We have used our social innovation award to build an integrated system in which theoretical and practical processes operate side by side,” said Sibel Maras, Agricultural Engineer at the Kütüp-Anne Platform. “With the agro-library, all individuals, especially children, will have the opportunity to personally experience in the garden what they have learned in books and the classroom, while finding answers to all kinds of questions about agricultural production.”

With UNDP funding, the initiative refurbished the local library and added books on sustainable agriculture, ecology and climate change to its collection. To complement the expanded possibilities for theoretical learning, land adjacent to the library was turned into a community garden. Its features include a composting station, where organic waste is being transformed into fertilizer; an insect hotel, where users can observe insects in their natural habitat; a collection of ancestral seeds, which are more resilient in the harsher conditions created by climate change; and an environmentally-friendly irrigation system using rainwater harvesting. The opening featured a first donation of ancestor seeds of wheat, corn, tomato and melon. 

“This facility will also include a seed library and hundreds of varieties of ancestral seeds will be secured here,” said Uşak Governor Turan Ergün, drawing attention to the importance of preserving ancestral seeds and transferring them to future generations. “The seeds taken under protection in our library will be regularly distributed to our farmers in the region every year, thus contributing to organic agriculture in the long run.” 

Turan Ergün

The agro-library’s motto is “from the consuming society to the producing society.” It aims is to share produce grown in the garden with needy community members and build a network among public institutions, NGOs and academia to promote other sustainable living practices. 

UNDP partners with people at all levels of society to help build nations that can withstand crisis, and drive and sustain the kind of growth that improves the quality of life for everyone. On the ground in 177 countries and territories, we offer global perspective and local insight to help empower lives and build resilient nations. For more see: www.undp.org/turkiye.

About İsmail Uğural

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