Food security in safe hands in Turkey

Bahri Dağdaş International Agricultural Research Institute, which was founded as a model farm in 1914 under Konya Governorship, continued its mission until 1934. Since that year, it continued to function under the Ministry of Agriculture to carry out research on livestock (stud farm). This institute was merged in 2002 with “Bahri Dağdaş International Winter Grain Research Center”, which was established on the same ground with the international cooperation of organizations like Mexico-based CIMMYT and Syria-based ICARDA, under its present name and the new institution became one of the biggest research centers in Turkey. 

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On the behalf of the ministry, this institute has acted as Turkey coordinator at the International Winter Wheat Improvement Program (IWWIP). This international cooperation was established as a result of the cooperation with CIMMYT in 1986 and ICARDA in 1990 to improve output and quality in the field of common wheat. This program produced materials not only for Turkey but also those countries growing winter wheat particularly the Middle and West Asia and North Africa. Also, this program exchanged genetic material with 100 countries while it sent scientific material to 55-60 countries for the wheat improvement to help their rehabilitation. Thanks to this program, 82 wheat kinds including 35 for Turkey have been developed, and these have been planted in the area of 2.5 million hectares in total, and this plantation provided an important contribution.

HIGH-QUALITY WHEAT TYPES BEING DEVELOPED
Turkey Drought Test Center, established thanks to the vision of the ministry, at a time when drought has become one of the biggest obstacles of production and when a new natural disaster hits our world every year, is also active within the body of the Institute since 2010. The center has conducted studies on wheat kinds, which have resistance to drought, and so far developed drought-resistant wheat kinds, ERAYBEY and BOZKIR, and common wheat TANER and ŞEHZADE for all-dry areas, and durum wheat TÜRKÖZ, ÖZER triticale and new barley type AYRANCI. All these are high-quality, fertile, and assertive and in order to deliver these to producers within this year, these kinds of wheat will be handed over to the private sector or the state’s associations like TIGEM and Agriculture Loans. An application to register 30 new varieties, which are developed thanks to the improvement program directed as a result of changing climate conditions and market demands, has been made within coming two years.

In the present case, the institute supports the seed sector of Konya, who carries out 35 percent of the seed growing in Turkey, with 35 varieties it has developed. Also, the institute conducts improvement programs in wheat, barley, oat, triticale, rye, maize, sunflower, soybean, safflower, common vetch, and buckwheat.

GREAT CONTRIBUTION TO SEED PRODUCTION
In addition to local and international seed developing programs that continue since 1987, the institute ensures the continuity of seed varieties, whose sale privilege has been transferred to either TIGEM or the private sector, through the production of 150 tons of seeds at original stage. In this context, the institute has contracts with around 150 companies around Turkey and mainly in Konya, who carries out thirty-five percent of the seed growing.

In order to clarify the picture with figures, the institute grows 15 percent of barley and 7.5 percent of seed cereals of Turkey in total.

As far as livestock is concerned, the institute is among the few institutions that carry out research into sheep breeding, which is the ‘biological child’ of the Central Anatolia. It provides a contribution to the development of livestock in Turkey with projects covering from Antalya to Sivas because of “Public Reclamation Projects” on sheep and goat with the support of the ministry. Within the framework of this program, breeders were supported 2 million Turkish liras in grants as a result of only the projects carried out by the institute in 2017.

Four new types (Hasak, Hasmer, Linmer and Hasiv) have been developed for Turkey as a result of “Appropriate Domestic Meat-Sheep Breeding Studies” which started in 1989. Among these types, Hasak and Hamer were registered as meat-race in 2016. The generalization of these new-types will help Turkey meets its own demand for meat.

The institute also realized important studies on the cattle farming. It continued the improvement and development programs by using advanced biotechnological methods like “Embryo Transfer,” and “In vitro Fertilization.” The institute will come up with mid-term solutions to meet Turkey’s demand for meat with “Brown Race Cattle-Breeding Cattle Development Project,” known as “Montofon,” a highly-adaptable to the Central Anatolian conditions and a combined race. Having a budget of 100 million Turkish liras, this development project is backed by the Ministry of Development and remained in KOP Action Plan.

SUPPORT FOR FIGHT AGAINST WHEATWORM
Apart from these studies, the activities of on-site protection have been maintained within the Protection of Local Genetic Sources and the institution-capabilities; many important studies have been realized in order to transfer these sources to the next generation and to realize to transfer of desired-genes through the improvement.

Having expertise on the poultry, the institute now carries out “partridge production.” Thanks to this activity, the institute contributes the biological campaign against stink bug – the main wheatworm- and supports the natural life, and also carries out biological studies on partridge.
Furthermore, the institute carries out studies to increase the productivity of farmlands by keeping land moisture particularly drylands and studies on “Direct Planting,” that is very important for Turkey for long years. The system of direct planting helps farmers lower the cost of soil cultivation. According to studies carried out, through the direct planting, producers can save up to 50 percent of oil through lowered tillage and band seeding.

The Institute’s Plant Health Section predicts and helps the necessary measures to be taken against sickness and harmful outbreaks within the institute’s responsibility area and also in Turkey thanks to its special staff. Apart from this important mission, it contributes to the improvement programs to develop sickness-resistant plants and new varieties. The quality in cereal, with its importance increasing every day and in other products, is evaluated by the Quality-Technology Department at international standards, and this evaluation helps the improvement program.

GENE MEMORY IN WHEAT CREATED FOR TURKEY
In addition to these important studies, the institute scanned 65 cities to gather the village-wheats, named as the genetic treasure and “the local wheat” and brought 3,000 populations to the gene bank. This genetic treasure is used in co-studies with TÜBİTAK, universities and NGOs to develop current types.

Consequently, the institute has been developing joint projects with local and foreign partners like FAO, CIMMYT, ICARDA, the public and private sectors, and universities in line with the industrialists’ expectation and wishes in the face of the climate change in Turkey and the world and customers’ habits in the food security. Thanks to this, it helps manufacturing of healthier and better quality products and as a result, it continues to provide R&D support to the country’s economy.

We also suggest you to read our previous article titled "Cultivation area decreases in Turkey".

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