The Future of Agriculture Project has contributed to Coca-Cola’s water replenishment program in Turkey since 2013. The initiative, powered by The Coca-Cola Life Plus Foundation, Turkish Ministry of Agriculture and Nature Conservation Center, aims to promote the use of ecosystem approach and to improve climate change adaptation in agriculture in Konya plain, one of the largest cultivated areas in Turkey. Thanks to the agricultural techniques and practices implemented which reduce loss of water and organic chemicals in soil, 2.1 billion litres of water has been saved since the project has started. Adding to that, 200,000 trees for windbreaks have been planted to protect cultivated areas from wind erosion and to protect humidity in the soil. 

Here, we hear from two of the participating farmers.

Hasan Fahri Er: Farmer, Cihanbeyli, Turkey

Our district, Cihanbeyli, is the biggest district in Turkey's Konya Province. Our economy depends mainly on agriculture. We have a dry climate and a history of rain-fed farming. In the 1980s, nobody would have believed that we were able to cultivate plants with high-irrigation requirement such as maze and sugar beet in this region.

Now we do, thanks to established water supply and irrigation infrastructures. However, precipitation is still limited, the number of drought incidents are increasing year by year. In some years, we don’t have any precipitation for six to eight months. Thus, we have to utilize water very carefully.

In 2014, the Agriculture of the Future Project launched in our district. The project team visited us regularly and introduced us to tools and methods that are applicable in the driest climates. We were granted direct seeding machines procured by the project, funded by Coca-Cola and donated to our farmers’ union. Project staff encouraged the village to use the machines to seed directly within the stubble itself, instead of getting rid of it by burning. They organized several trainings, daily meetings and field practices to help us with the best and coordinated the use and maintenance of the equipment. They encouraged us to try. So we did.

Why do I like it? Soil moisture is crucial for my crop, especially during draught. Compared to burning the stubble and applying conventional ploughing, direct seeding method keeps the stubble on our fields. The stubble covers and feeds soil like a nutrient rich blanket, does not allow the moisture to escape. So the soil is more humid and richer even during the driest months. This, I can see with my own eyes.

In addition to this, now I don’t have to plough the fields two or three times and spend tons of money for fuel as I had to do for conventional ploughing. Only one working session is enough for direct seeding. I stay at home with my family instead of spending days in the field. 

Another good thing is that my neighbours are not burning the stubble, which is a gruesome act burning the soil and numerous living things with it, anymore. They also have a cleaner conscience in addition to cleaner air to breathe, etc.  

Soil is the most important asset in my life. I have to take care of my soil, so that it will take care of me and my family. After practicing direct seeding, now I acknowledge that if you plough the soil, you scratch the bosom of it, you make it vulnerable to elements. It bleeds, it loses the humidity essential to her. Without protecting my soil, I cannot provide my 2 children a good future. I want them to make a living here, establish their families and protect our land for their own children.

The faster you start to use these nature-friendly techniques, the earlier you see the results.

Mariye Yalcinoz: Farmer, Karapinar, Turkey

I am 50 years old and was born and raised in Karapınar District of the province of Konya. My fellow citizens and I depend on agriculture and animal husbandry for a living. Farming is a family business for me, the future of three children of mine.

Karapınar is located in one of the driest regions of Turkey. Despite its long history, the district did not progress much due to harsh environmental conditions. We even have a desert like bare land in the middle of the district.

The region is famous for its harsh winds and erosion they cause. My mother used to tell me that they had so strong storms that their windows were blocked by 2 metres wall of sand. When the strong winds blew, the roads were covered by sand, similar to snow cover during winter, and transportation was halted until the storm ended and the roads were cleared. Despite dedicated wind erosion combatting efforts in the form of wire fences and rehabilitation by relevant authorities since 1962, we still have severe dust storms and the soil constantly moves. Not only are we losing the most productive layers of our soil but also plant diseases are transported and spread among fields.  

Agriculture of the Future Project staff approached us in 2014 offering individual farmers a solution to protect their land against wind erosion.  It was as simple as planting trees at the borders of our fields! If we would let them, they were going to plant trees free of charge to form windbreaks. When we agreed, we were sceptical and unaware of multiple benefits we would receive.

My fields are protected from severe wind by a fence of trees now. They give shelter to us when we give a break from working in the field, keep us cool with their canopy. My fields are more lively now with more birds, bees and butterflies compared to the past, feeding on pests as well. It is such a nice view in a desert like area. Sometimes, while I work in my field, I see sand clouds on the bare fields in the distance, workers trying to cover their noses and mouths. It’s such a sad view. I feel like shouting all the way to the owner “Just plant trees fellow!”