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Rutgers Professor and Photojournalist Partner with Turkish University to Launch Women Farmers' Project
NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J.– A pilot program conducted by a Rutgers-led partnership to train approximately 45 Turkish women farmers who are small-scale citrus and tomato greenhouse producers will take place in Kumluca, Turkey, from Oct. 24 to Nov.18.
Inspired by the impact of Annie’s Project, a nationally recognized risk management educational program for female farmers operating in the United States, Robin Brumfield, New Jersey’s Annie’s Project leader and extension specialist in farm management at Rutgers, and Mick Minard, photographer and communications strategy consultant with an expertise in reporting the impact of market-based strategies for social change, formed a partnership with Akdeniz University in Antalya, Turkey.
The partnership will adapt the Annie’s Project model to train Turkish women farmers on the basic skills and best practices necessary for them to sustain and scale profitable agricultural businesses.
"Women currently account for approximately 45% of Turkey’s agricultural workforce,” said Brumfield. “We’re implementing the Women Farmers Project in recognition of women farmers as critical agents for enhancing agricultural and rural development and food security in Turkey."
As part of the project, Brumfield and team will provide specialized training in business management, information technologies, alternative production systems, soil productivity, plant nutrition and other topics to help women farmers pursue opportunities to start new ventures, upgrade or improve existing businesses, expand their customer base or enter new markets.
The project aims to develop the technical and managerial capacities of Turkish women farmers through education, while supporting the region’s economic advancement toward sustainable agriculture and gender equality.
Among the objectives of this pilot project are to examine the participants’ socio-economic status, obtain a better understanding of their farming system and determine their level of interest in improved production technologies, business planning and management strategies, and to demonstrate new tools for best farm practices.
To initiate the planning stages of the project, Brumfield and Minard traveled to Antlaya in September to conduct a needs assessment and preliminary feasibility study to determine the scope and program of the Turkish Women Farmers Project. They worked in partnership with Burhan Ozkan, professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics and coordinator for Bologna Process Coordination Office at Akdeniz University, Bedrullah Ercin, provincial director of food, agriculture and livestock in Antalya Province and a select team of agricultural extension educators working at the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock.
The team conducted a survey to identify priority needs, interests and current capacities of women farmers in the area. By enabling each woman to participate actively in her own development, the results from the initial survey helped to determine the final training program and pilot location for the project.
The intended impact of the Turkish Women Farmers Project will be primarily measured by the women’s ability to use agricultural and enterprise skills to calculate and manage the risks of changing their patterns and methods of production.
In addition, they will be assessed on improvements in their business practices and enterprise planning skills, in particular their ability to take advantage of new or growing markets–an indication that women farmers have begun to think like entrepreneurs, analyzing their situation and identifying income-generating, cost-saving and environmentally sound activities.
Media Contact: Paula Walcott-Quintin