ICARDA Türkiye Country Office established in 1990
Country manager: Mesut Keser
ICARDA’s work in Türkiye is made possible through the support of the government of Türkiye, CRP CGIAR Research Program on Wheat, Gates Foundation. Partners Ag.Res.Inst. Of Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry of Türkiye, the ARI`s located in CWANA countries, International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT).
Türkiye is located in the Fertile Crescent, one of the cradles of civilization in the Middle East, where settled farming first emerged. The country boasts over 30 million ha of arable land and great potential and experience in agricultural production. In addition, Türkiye has favorable climate and geographical conditions, fertile soils and biological diversity. Although the agricultural sector represents only 7.1% of GDP, around 20 million Turkish people work in agriculture.
Türkiye's extraordinary ecosystems have produced considerable diversity in plant species. Over 3,000 out of the 9,500 plant species in the flora of Türkiye are endemic to the region and are naturally adapted to drought and heat, pests, and diseases. This represents an important source for developing new varieties with similar traits in climate adaptation programs.
The fruitful collaboration between ICARDA and Türkiye dates to the establishment of ICARDA in 1977. Furthermore, Türkiye began to make financial contributions to CGIAR in 2005, acquiring the status of ‘CGIAR donor country’.
- Sustainable development of small-scale farmers of the Taurus Mountains: In collaboration with the Cukurova University, ICARDA implemented a collaborative research and development project that examined the existing farming systems and developed new and improved technologies through on-farm experimentation to fit new approaches into the local systems of the Taurus Mountains.
- Water management research in Central Anatolia: Collaborating with Turkish scientists on the potential role of supplemental irrigation in improving wheat yields.
- Seed system development: Developing effective seed systems and training Turkish scientists on these systems.
- Rooftop Water Harvesting Project in Beypazari Tekke village of Ankara: Improving domestic water supply through rainwater harvesting and involving the institutions, organizations, and individuals already active in rainwater harvesting.
- Enhancement of smallholder wheat-legume cropping systems to improve food security under a changing climate: Disseminating new cropping system technologies, especially to smallholder farmers to increase their income.
- Conservation of genetic resources: Established a collection of germplasm to conserve the unique crop biodiversity, which could otherwise be eroded by climate change or unsustainable agricultural practices.
- IPulses: Increasing food legume production by small-scale farmers to strengthen food and nutrition security through adopting improved technologies.
- International Winter Wheat Improvement Program (IWWIP): Developing and facilitating high-yielding advanced winter wheat germplasm that is tolerant to major diseases and suitable for other regions, like Central and West Asia.
- Cereal Rust Research Center: The Regional Cereal Rust Research Center (RCRRC) in Izmir monitors rust populations in the region and tests national and international materials by Türkiye and ICARDA. The tests are done in BSL-3 bio-containment facility. The RCRRC also develops rust-resistant germplasm, making it available to regional scientists and breeders.
- Capacity development: Training scientists and supervision of post-graduate studies, short and long-term training courses, conferences, travelling workshops, and scientific seminars.
- More than 40 cultivars originating from IWWIP have been released in Turkey. The area used for growing these IWWIP-originated cultivars covers more than 1 million ha currently.
- As a result of new and improved technologies, the incomes of participating farmers increased by 65%.
- As of 2022, more than 800 Turkish scientists had participated in capacity-building training activities conducted by ICARDA.
- Seventy demonstrations, on-farm trials, and 20 field days were conducted in collaboration with farmers. In those trials, over 20 new legumes (lentil and chickpea) and wheat cultivars were introduced to farmers.
- Over 20 chickpea and around 15 lentil cultivars released in Turkey have been selected from ICARDA-originated material. The planting area of lentil and chickpea has not increased; however, the production has not decreased dramatically due to the increase in yield that new cultivars contributed to it.
- ICARDA has established the second largest collection of germplasm from a single country by collecting more than 12,000 accessions from Turkey. More than 3,000 accessions collected from Turkey were repatriated to the Ankara genebank.
- Around 14,000 germplasm accessions from the ICARDA genebank have been kept under a ‘black box’ (safekeeping) arrangement in the Ankara genebank and were returned to ICARDA genebanks in Morocco and Lebanon.