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Female farmers start organic farming in Turkey's İzmir
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Thursday, August 19, 2010
İZMİR – Anatolia News Agency

Female farmers working in a cooperative in the neighborhood of Balçova in İzmir, having first taken courses organized by the Balçova Municipality, have applied to be allowed to practice organic farming in Menemen.

Speaking to the Anatolia news agency, Balçova Mayor Mehmet Ali Çalkaya said the municipality opened seven “neighborhood houses” in eight different neighborhoods, and that they offered more than 20 adult education courses at these venues. Çalkaya said the municipality particularly saw many positive results in courses teaching rug weaving and similar handicrafts. “A student can weave a rug in a month and make 400 or 500 Turkish Liras in profit,” he said, adding that the female students collectively earned roughly 680,000 liras between 2004 and 2009. “This is not a big amount but it at least is something.”

Çalkaya said that, in conjunction with the neighborhood courses, an Ege University institution for cooperative trading systems was giving seminars to the students and that they were modeling this style of community education on the People’s Education Centers founded in the early years of the Turkish Republic.

These factors combined – the neighborhood houses and the university seminars – were encouraging the local women in particular to establish cooperatives.

“We started the ‘Cooperative for Balçova’s Producing Women.’ We currently have 680 members and we are aiming for 1,000,” Çalkaya said. “The agriculture faculty of Ege University owns agricultural land in the Menemen district where we are going to do organic farming. Also, we will produce canned food at Ege University’s factory with our harvests. Through cooperative trading systems we will make a few million liras annually.

“Thus, our women will be both economically contributing to their families and they will have their economic liberty. We have formed a group of women who support their husbands in their life-struggles and say, ‘I am in the game as well,’” said Çalkaya, adding that local administrations should implement policies that are inclusive of women.

“That is how Turkey is going to develop,” he said.

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