New Horizons - For the local people in Batman, strawberry now means employment and sustainable development.
Hence, the primary school of Yeniköy village in Batman, where the first strawberry fields were laid out four years ago with Diyarbakır-Batman-Siirt development project, was named after strawberry and became "Çilekli Primary School".
Farmers' incomes tripled with strawberry
690 fully equipped and confined orchards were laid out on 8500 decares of land in three provinces with the project which was carried out in cooperation of Turkish Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock, International Fund for Agriculture Development and UNDP in Turkey.
The project aimed to expand fruit growing and ensure a significant increase in incomes of farmers in three project provinces since 2007.
Before the project started, tobacco was the biggest and most important source of livelihood for Sason province in Batman.
With the supports provided by Diyarbakır-Batman-Siirt project, tobacco, which requires an onerous cultivating procedure, left its place to strawberry for which it is easier to find consumers in the market and which has higher profit rates.
Prof. Sevgi Paydaş Kargı who gave trainings to farmers on strawberry cultivation explains the importance of strawberry for the region: “I think that strawberry has become really important for this region because strawberry can be cultivated here both in summer and fall. As there is a shortfall of strawberries in Turkey and we will be able to export it to other provinces and neighboring countries.”
Strawberry cultivation has become a significant source of livelihood and 20 percent of the local population, who had to work as seasonal workers or had to migrate, was employed and thanks to the products from the orchards, farmers' incomes has tripled.
Sustainable farming which uses water efficiently
Technical study tours were organized for supporting farmers to use the water in their orchard effectively, efficiently and as necessary.
Farmers were informed on drip irrigation systems which are developed according to the needs of seedling, instead of the old traditional techniques that make the soil infertile with the improper and unnecessary amount of irrigation systems.
Later on with the grants provided, local farmers were introduced to the modern irrigation techniques.
Farmers that established the drip irrigation systems started not to use irrigation systems that makes it difficult for the seedling to get the beneficial compounds it needs and that increases the salinity rate of the soil.
In addition, farmers received consultancy support on the subject with the periodical controls made by technical staff of the Research Institute and Provincial Directorate of Agriculture.
With the contributions of the project, 1.2 million seedlings were planted on 2,016 decares by the end of 2013.
Increasing the rate of grants to 70 percent in 2014, 2.3 million seedlings are planned to be planted on 420 decares of orchard which will be built in 2014.
As a result of the project activities, it is aimed to increase the strawberry seedling production in Turkey by 4,3 percent with the supports to Sason province.