Turkey - Offering new prospects through cooperatives

Turkish smallholders, micro and small-scale entrepreneurs and business people outside the metropolitan areas seek to improve their economic situation by working together. The DGRV supports them by promoting business-oriented cooperatives which facilitate access to markets and services.
The Turkish economy has been growing dynamically since the year 2002, yet not all parts of the country have benefited from this growth: more than half of the 82 provinces are defined as priority areas by the government. This includes the predominantly rural and structurally-weak areas in the eastern part of the country. A high proportion of the rural population generates a low income from agriculture based on smallholdings. Alternative forms of employment are non-existent. In most cases, a family farm consists of no more than two to four hectares. This farm structure and production and marketing deficiencies, which can be considerable at times, are the reasons for existing structural weaknesses.
Both politically and economically, Turkey has special importance for Europe. It will become the most important bridge head towards the Near East and Central Asia in the long term. In order to fulfil this function properly, Turkey must proceed rigorously with the reform process it has initiated. The massive social and structural disparities inside the country require substantial efforts in order to cope with the challenges of regional economic development, globalization and the EU rapprochement process. Marginalized regions are in need of comprehensive economic support and structure-enhancing measures as well as greater self-help efforts from the segments of the population in need.
Against this background, the DGRV offers targeted programmes to support the organization and networking of cooperative structures in rural areas. The DGRV cooperates closely with various agricultural cooperative organizations and the cooperative department in the agricultural ministry to this end.
Reliable and efficient structures must be put in place quickly with the aim of consolidating the agricultural cooperative sector and re-orient developments towards a market economy. Kastamonu province is planned to become a pilot region for the building-up of cooperative systems. By providing specific project support, the regional cooperative in the province is to give momentum to the development of the sector and cooperative members alike.