Savaş Akcan, President of TÜRKTOB, said that widespread false facts in the public opinion about the Turkish seed sector have damaged the sector despite the progress achieved. Pointing out that hybrid and GMO seeds are commonly confused, Akcan said that there are no GMO seeds in Turkey.
“Turkey Agriculture and Seed Summit in its New Century” organized by Turkish Seed Union and Reliable Product Platform was hosted by Istanbul Commodity Exchange. Within the scope of the event, the activities of the Turkish Seed Union in the field of seed production were explained and false facts about the seed sector were shared with the audience.
The Turkish Seed Union (TÜRKTOB), which is waging a war on falsehoods in the seed sector, organized an important seed summit with the participation of all its Sub-unions. The opening speech of the Turkey Agriculture and Seed Summit in its New Century, which was hosted by the Istanbul Commodity Exchange and supported by the Reliable Product Platform, was made by Dr. Nihat Pakdil, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Forestry.
In his speech during the opening ceremony, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Nihat Pakdil said, “Seed is the first step of life. Seed is the key to existence. Seed production has become more important in terms of plant health and food safety. As global population increases, the industry and service sector expands. People living in rural areas migrate to the city. This puts pressure on production areas. The question ‘How can we produce more efficiently?’ comes to the agenda. Seed alone is a critical factor. The advances in this field since the last century have turned this field into an industry. Today, export/import coverage ratio in the seed sector has exceeded 100%.”
NO GMO SEEDS IN TURKEY
Savaş Akcan, President of the Turkish Seed Union (TÜRKTOB) said that they have waged war against the false facts in the seed sector and underlined that the misinformation corrodes the sector. “There are contradiction in terms on topics such as domestic seed, certified seed, hybrid seed, and GMO. We try to disseminate the fact that producing and trading GMO seed is prohibited in Turkey, that we are a net seed exporter and many other misinformation,” Akcan stated.
Akcan reminded that problems such as the global pandemic, climate crisis and wars directly affect food and agriculture. “Nevertheless, when looking at the level we have reached, we are one of the luckiest geographies amid the current crises. Even though different information circulates among the public, the Turkish agriculture and seed sector shows all its best efforts with the support of the government in these challenging processes,” he emphasized.
Sharing current figures for the sector, Akcan said, “At the end of 2022, our certified seed use is 1462 thousand tons. We produced 137 million fruit seedlings, 2 million vine seedlings, 91 million strawberry seedlings, 6 billion vegetable seedlings, 2 billion ornamental seedlings. Our certified seed production has doubled and sapling production has tripled in the last decade. Our ornamental plant production has increased by 75% in the same period. Our foreign trade figures show that our seed exports, which were 120 million dollars 10 years ago, have increased to 232 million dollars today. Moreover, 10 years ago we had a foreign trade deficit of 67 million dollars, today we have a surplus of 63 million dollars.
Stating that he was proud to host the meeting, Ali Kopuz, President of Istanbul Commodity Exchange (ISTIB), said: “The seed sector is a very crucial sector, and we are always ready to provide support in this field. We have carried out projects in many different fields so far. In 2012, we started the ‘Project for Investigating the Germination Capability of Seeds Estimated to be Older than 50 Years’ in seed development work at the stock exchange. In this project, we germinated the seeds after 4 years. As a result, it was seen that they had a significant potential. The seeds have been barcoded. We have realized projects in many areas like this.”
WE HAVE BEEN WORKING WITH SEED GROWERS ON FALSE FACTS FOR YEARS
Celal Toprak, Chairman of the Reliable Product Platform, said the opening speech of the meeting: “We have been working with seed producers for years on common false facts. We have come a long way. The Ministry of Agriculture has been an important stakeholder recently. We have held 7 meetings so far. Our meetings will continue.”
The first session of the summit was moderated by agri-journalist Galip Umut Özdil. Selami Yazar, Chairman of the Sub-union of Plant Breeders (BİSAB), Hurşit Nallı, Chairman of the Sub-union of Sapling Producers (FÜAB), M. Kayhan Yıldırım, Chairman of the Sub-union of Seedling Producers (FİDEBİRLİK), Ahmet Dündar, Vice Chairman of the Sub-Union of Ornamental Plants Producers (SÜSBİR) attended the session as speakers.
The second session was moderated by journalist Mehmet Uluğtürkan with the participation of Aykut Hacıoğlu, Chairman of the Sub-union of Seed Distributors (TODAB), Yıldıray Gençer, Chairman of the Sub-union of Seed Industrialists and Producers (TSÜAB), and H. Ömer Güler, Chairman of the Sub-union of Seed Growers (TYAB).
The summit, which was organized to discuss national strategies for the branding of Turkey in the agriculture and seed sector, to pave the way for the agriculture and seed sector in the international arena, to support the national and local production movement, to explain the future vision and economic benefits of Turkey’s agricultural values to the world, attracted great interest from the participants. The summit ended with a cocktail in the garden of Istanbul Commodity Exchange.