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Country report - Turkey

by Uygun Aksoy, Ege University Faculty of Agriculture (EUFA)

This article was originally written for the publication "Organic in Europe", published by the IFOAM EU Group in collaboration with the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL, Switzerland, and the Mediterranean Institute for Agronomic Research CIHEAM-IAM, Bari, Italy.  

Key indicators 2012

  • Organic agricultural area: 523,627 hectares
  • Operators:
    • Organic producers: 57,259
    • Organic processors: 113
    • Organic importers: 32
    • Organic exporters: 34
  • Retail sales: No data

Area and operator data: MoFAL.

History of organic farming

  • 1985-1986: Certified orhanic production begins for the export market, in line with the private standards of European control bodies.
  • 1991: The organic agriculture association ETO is established as an umbrella NGO
  • 1994: First regulation on organic plant production is issued
  • 1999: First National Symposium on Organic Agriculture is organised by ETO, the Ministry of Agriculture and Ege University
  • 2003: The Department of Organic Agriculture is established within the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs

Key sector institutions

Production base: land use and key crops

Of the total area of 523,627 hectares

  • 76.4% consists of arable crops and
  • 16.5% permanent crops, while another
  • 4.7% is given over to permanent grassland and grazing areas.

The key arable crops are

  • cereals (197,877 hectares),
  • green fodder from arable land (174,136 hectares) and
  • crops for industrial uses (14,315 hectares).

The key permanent crops are

  • olives (36,261 hectares),
  • nuts (19,320 hectares) and
  • apricots (4,946 hectares).


The major market is still the export market, with European countries being the main destinations. The product range includes dried fruit and nuts, culinary herbs, aromatic plants (roses), pulses and fruit juice. However, the domestic market for plant and animal products is growing rapidly. Fresh vegetables and fruit are the main products in the open markets. Livestock products (milk and dairy products, eggs, meat and meat products) are produced in the domestic market. Of the livestock products, only honey is exported. Cotton is an important crop, especially in the south-eastern part of Turkey. It is processed into yarn and textiles for the export market.

  • Top-selling products: milk, bread and tomatoes (domestic market). Dried apricots, raisins, apples and apple-based products, dried tomatoes and dried figs (export market).
  • Market channels (estimated shares): for the export market, production, which mostly involves contracted farming, is dependent on the demand from abroad (more than 75 % of produced goods are exported, rising to 100 % for some products). In the domestic market, the main channels are retail chains (60 %), open markets in major cities (25 %), farm-to-farm sales of feed to animal farms (6 %), specialised shops (5 %), internet sales (2 %) and direct sales (2 %).
  • Exports and imports: No data available. Dried fruit an nuts, and culinary and aromatic plants are the major products for the European export market. Major import products include processed foods (e.g. baby food, chocolate, coffee) from Europe, and raw materials (e.g. cotton, apple juice, pulses) which are generally produced by Turkish companies in neighbouring countries, such as Syria, Iran and Uzbekistan, and then brought in for processing in Turkey.

Standards, legislation, organic logo

All organic products sold on the Turkish market have to be certified according to Turkish law (Laws no. 5262 of 03/12/2004, published in the Official Gazette no, 25659, and no. 27676 of 18/08/2010, and amendments). The inspection and certification body should be authorised by the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock (MFAL), based upon certain criteria. Product should carry a laber containing the information specified in the regulation. In order to be sold as organic in the Turkish domestic market, certification according to Turkish regulations is compulsory, and this must be carried out by certification bodies authorised by MoFAL. However, any food and non-food commodity can be certified for export according to other official or private standards. If a control body certifies only for the EU, there is no legal obligation for authorisation from MoFAL. The use, size and colour etc. of the organic logo is specified in Turkish legislation. The use of the organic logo is compulsory. For imported organic products and products in conversion the logo cannot be used.

Policy support

In 2013, payments for organic agriculture amounted to TRY 500 per hectare for fruits and vegetables, TRY 100 per hectare for field crops, TRY 5 per beehive, TRY 0.35 - 0.45 per fish, and TRY 10 - 150 per head for ruminants and other livestock. Organic farming also receives an additional valuation when it comes to allotting rural development support.

  • National action plan: The Organic Agriculture National Action Plan 2013-2016 (Organik Tarim Ulusal Eylem Plani 2013-2016) was prepared in 2013 through a stakeholder consultation. It will be financed by the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock, with an expected budget of 6 250,000 Turkish lira (TRY) In 2012, EUR 1 was worth TRY 2.3551 (annual exchange rate according to the European Central Bank). The action plan addresses five main areas: developing and expanding organic farming, strengthening of services related to inspection and certification, improvement of data collection infrastructure and traceability, development of training and extension services, and the dvelopment of institutional capacities.
  • Other policy support: Additional support is available for the purchase of certified propagation material, biological controls and organic fertilisers, for soil analysis and for working in environmentally fragile areas, and for making use of agricultural consultants. The agricultural banks allow a 50 % reduction in the interest rate for loans to organic farmers. For exporters, 50 % of the cost of analyses is subsidised, if no residues are found.

Research & advice

DG Research and Policy at the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock supports research into organic agriculture, in its approximately 30 national research institutes. A research group meeting takes place annually, which is open to all stakeholders.

Advice is given through organic units in every provincial directorate. private consultancies are promoted. Some universities (Ege, Erzurum Atatürk, Ankara, Çukurova, 19 mayis, Uludağ) have included organic research in thei research and training programmes.

Challenges & outlook

At the technical level, the theory is well-known but practical experience is limited. The farmers; awareness of the basic organic principles remains low. There is considerable potential in the domestic market for processed food and non-food products. Individual institutions conduct their own bilateral cooperation with institutions in the European Union. However there is still a need to strengthen links with EU institutions and companies, not only in research and education but also at the farmers' level.

Further information

Organic Eprints for Italy: www.orgprints.org/view/projects/turkey.html
Department of Agricultural Research and Policies, TAGEM: www.tagem.gov.tr
Department of Good Agricultural Practices and Organic Agriculture: www.bugem.gov.tr

For other relevant websites, see the section on key sector institutions.


Prof. Dr. Uygun Aksoy
Ege University
Faculty of Agriculture
Department of Horticulture
35100 Bornova- Izmir


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