UNDP and Trendyol open first digital community center in Adana focusing on rural development

December 16, 2023

 “Villages of Tomorrow” joint initiative brings digital tools to rural areas to reduce regional disparities and boost market access and income for local producers 

Adana, 14 December 2023 - The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Turkish e-commerce giant Trendyol today opened the first digital center in the Kürkçüler village of the Adana province, as part of their “Villages of Tomorrow” joint initiative, which supports rural development by providing digital transformation opportunities to villages and rural communities across Türkiye. 

The Kürkçüler Digital Center – housed in a fully renovated building owned by Sarıçam Municipality, the local partner of the initiative – boasts two training halls, a technology workshop with state-of-the-art equipment, indoor and outdoor common work areas, a children’s playground and a digital agriculture demonstration area. The center is equipped with computers, a 3D printer and a photo studio. 

“Digital tools are powerful allies in development,” said UNDP Resident Representative Louisa Vinton. “By providing training in digital skills to all community members, from the youngest to the oldest, and by opening up global markets for distinctive local products, this center will help to bolster local incomes, equalize opportunities and bridge the divide in quality of life between the village and the city.”

Kürkçüler is one of three pilot villages participating in the Villages of Tomorrow initiative. A similar digital center is scheduled for opening in Ulamış, Izmir in January 2024 and in Bağıvar, Diyarbakır in February 2024. A fourth pilot village in Hatay, one of the provinces that suffered the greatest devastation in the February earthquakes, will be included in the next phase of the joint initiative. 

The longer-term plan is to expand to ten villages over five years, with a total of one million people involved. By the time the project concludes, the infusion of digital technology and training is expected to yield a 60 percent increase in the number of new e-commerce entrepreneurs in participating villages. 

The Kürkçüler Digital Center will offer a broad curriculum, including training on digital technologies, e-commerce, e-export, product development, marketing, branding, packaging, finance, quality and digital literacy. Training is available to all producers, but the initiative will focus on encouraging participation by youth, women and persons with disabilities. Consultancy services will be provided on smart agricultural practices. Digital art activities will be undertaken for youth, and training on robotics, coding and writing algorithms for children. In addition, the center will deliver services including the use of digital applications in education and healthcare services, and computerized product design. 

“Trendyol is a technology company and closing the digital divide in all areas of life is an important part of our sustainability vision,” said İrem Poyraz, Trendyol Group Corporate Communications Director. “Villages of Tomorrow project was born from this approach and our target to support local development. Today, we opened the first digital center in Kürkçüler, Adana as part of the project, which we initiated to provide digital transformation opportunities to villages across Türkiye."

One innovative focus of the Villages of Tomorrow initiative is applying digital tools to agriculture, with an eye to increasing productivity and improving sustainability. As part of project preparations, each of the three pilot villages collaboratively formulated a roadmap that identified a number of distinctive local “focus products” to be championed. For Adana, these include citrus fruits, peppers, cotton fabric and woven rugs; for Diyarbakır, almonds, watermelons, grapes, terebinth (a tree fruit), copper and silk textiles; and for Izmir, artichokes, olives, wheat, carob, handmade felt and lace needlework.

Services provided in the digital center will help transform traditional local staples into high-value commodities. Citrus fruits will be transformed into household cleaners, natural haircare products and body lotions. Dried peels will be made into air freshener, tea and aroma therapy products. Similarly, peppers grown in Karaisalı village will be processed into paste, jam, dipping sauce and spices. Famous Çukurova cotton and Aladağ woven rugs will be used as raw material for synthetic-free garments, cushion covers, tablet cases, phone straps and other accessories that will boost income for producers.

“We are delighted to host this pioneering center and glad that it will serve rural people from all across Adana province, as well as cooperatives in neighboring Osmaniye and Hatay, which were so hard-hit by the earthquakes,” said Bilal Uludağ, Mayor of Sarıçam. “The digital center offers a priceless opportunity for us to give the local products of which we are so proud the global reputation they so richly deserve.”

For more information:   
Deniz Tapan, Communications Specialist, UNDP Türkiye, deniz.tapan@undp.org