UNDP and Trendyol launch second “Village of Tomorrow” in Izmir’s Ulamış

May 21, 2024

Izmir, 21 May 2024 – With the opening today of a new digital center in Ulamış, a village of 3,000 people in the Seferihisardistrict of Izmir, the United Nations Development Programme(UNDP) and Turkish e-commerce giant Trendyol added a second location to their “Villages of Tomorrow” rural development project. Villages of Tomorrow equips participating villages with a host of digital tools, technologiesand training to expand markets for local products, promote “smart” agriculture to improve yields and reduce costs, and provide young and old residents alike with a chance to learn cutting-edge digital skills that can open doors to new livelihoods.

“Closing the digital divide in all areas of life is an important part of our sustainability vision as Trendyol,” said TrendyolGroup Corporate Communications Director İrem Poyraz.“Villages of Tomorrow is one of the most comprehensive rural development projects in Türkiye. With UNDP, we aim to invigorate rural economies, preserve cultural heritage and create pathways for inclusive growth. We aim to deliver the products from these centers not only to Türkiye, but also to all markets in which we operate, from Azerbaijan to Germany, from Dubai to the Czech Republic." 

“Our shared aim with Trendyol is to demonstrate how digital tools can help to bridge the gap in living standards between rural and urban areas in Türkiye,” said UNDP Resident Representative Louisa Vinton. “By improving incomes and opportunities for village residents while showcasing the creativity and ingenuity of village products, we hope to transform the village from a place from which young people escape to an attractive option for life and work.”

The initiative’s first digital center opened in December 2023 in the village of Kürkçüler in the Sarıçam district of Adana. Preparations are now under way to open similar centers in Sakarya, Diyarbakır and Hatay (a location that was added to the project after the 2023 earthquakes). By 2028, the project will expand to ten villages in all and involve a total of one million people.

Village of Tomorrow digital centers provide physical and online training and workshops to community members. Each center is equipped with a training hall and a technology workshop offering use of computers, 3D printers, robotics and coding sets and a small photo studio.

The digital center in Ulamış is also open to the residents of surrounding villages such as Bademler, Düzce, Turgut, İhsaniye and Çamlı, ensuring that a population of around 15,000 people can continuously benefit from the opportunities and training provided by the center.

Each Village of Tomorrow receives support in selecting a shortlist of distinctive local products with high sales potential on national and global markets. For Ulamış, these include artichokes, tangerines, olives, traditional karakılçık wheat, carob, naturally dyed wool and lace needlepoint. Training in product development, diversification, certification, branding, packaging and e-commerce is offered to local residents and cooperatives to expand their market reach. These efforts are expected to yield a 60-percent rise in e-commerce entrepreneurs within five years. 

Promoting “smart agriculture” – the use of digital systems to monitor weather conditions and soil moisture and automated pumping devices for data-driven planting, irrigation, and spraying – is another project focus. Such technologies deliver savings and improve yields. In Ulamış, for example, the detection of the Mediterranean fruit fly using these tools in a demonstration tangerine grove established under the project in August 2023 triggered a timely application of pesticides. Product losses were prevented and savings of up to 20 percent were achieved.

The opening ceremony in Ulamış was attended by officials from Izmir Metropolitan Municipality, the project’s local partner, as well as NGO representatives and village residents.

For more information:

Deniz Şilliler Tapan, UNDP Türkiye Communications Specialist, deniz.tapan@undp.org