Turkey is a Eurasian country located on the borders of southeastern Europe and southwestern Asia, thus considered as a unique bridge linking the continents of Europe and Asia. The country is surrounded by three seas namely Black Sea, Aegean Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. Turkey’s population was estimated at 73.6 million in 2011. Although Ankara is Turkey’s capital, the biggest, most important, and economical city is Istanbul. Turkey is currently engaged in EU accession process.
The country is administratively divided into 81 provinces. For census purpose, the provinces are organized into seven regions. Each province comprises a number of districts; the total number of districts is 923. Turkey’s eastern part is mountainous, with several rivers. The country is prone to frequent earthquakes. In general, summers are hot and dry, while winters are wet and cool. Climate varies from region to region and the same is true for coastal areas.
About 29.5 percent of the country’s labor force was employed by agriculture sector in 2009 as compared to 2001 when it used to be 40 percent. In 2011, the contribution of the sector to nation’s GDP was 9.3 percent. According to the 1990 census, 85 percent of land holdings were less than 10 hectares and 57 percent of these were fragmented into smaller plots. Large farms exist in Adana, Izmir and Konya regions. Although modern machinery has been introduced, agricultural operations in general remain traditional. Turkey’s total land area is considered as arable, but only about one-third is under cultivation in any given year. In 1998, about 16 percent of the arable area was irrigated. Rise in the use of inorganic fertilizers and expansion of irrigated areas have raised yields. About 90 percent of cultivable land is devoted to cereals, with wheat being the dominant crop. Other major crops and fruits are barley, sugar beets, and grapes, but maize, sunflower seeds, cotton, oranges, olive, fruits, nuts and, especially hazelnuts, are also grown. Turkey’s tobacco is in great demand as is evident from its substantial exports. Government’s subsidies to the farmers are being steadily phased out. Livestock and fishery sectors are also of economic importance but they need improvement.
Key Statistics and Indicators
Agricultural land (sq km)
Agricultural land (% of land area)
Arable land (hectares)
Arable land (% of land area)
Arable land (hectares per person)
Fertilizer consumption (kg per hectare of arable land)
Agriculture, value added (% of GDP)
Food production index (2004-2006 = 100)
Food exports (% of merchandise exports)
Food imports (% of merchandise imports)
GNI per capita, Atlas method (current US$)
Literacy rate, adult total (% of people ages 15 and above)
Literacy rate, youth female (% of females ages 15-24)
Literacy rate, youth male (% of males ages 15-24)
Ratio of young literate females to males (% ages 15-24)
Ratio of female to male secondary enrollment (%)
Mobile cellular subscriptions (per 100 people)
Internet users (per 100 people)
Population density (people per sq. km of land area)
Rural population (% of total population)
Agricultural population (% of total population)*
Total economically active population
Total economically active population in agriculture*
Total economically active population in agriculture (in %
of total economically active population)
Female economically active population in agriculture (% of
total economically active population in agriculture)*
Sources: The World Bank; * FAO Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
History of extension and the enabling/disabling environment
The very first formal organization for providing rural advisory services in Turkey was the Agriculture and Industry Council of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, established in 1838. The Turkish government has been developing agricultural research and extension since 1930s under the Ministry of Agriculture (later called as Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, and since 2011 called as the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock. Turkey hosted the CENTO Conference on Agricultural Extension held from April 12 to 22, 1967.
Two phases (first 1984-1993 and the second 1990-1997) of the Agricultural Extension and Applied Research Project (AEARP), jointly financed by the government and the World Bank, gave a big boost to extension when the Training and Visit (T&V) system of extension was introduced throughout the country. Positions of Village Group Technicians (VGTs) were created. Each VGT covers four to five villages and lives in a village. The T&V model of extension is still in operation with some modifications. In 1987, the Chamber of Agriculture (TZOB), the biggest farmers’ association in the country with a membership of over 4.8 million farmers, launched the German-assisted pilot Leader Farmer Project in four districts with the aim of introducing private advisory services. The project succeeded in injecting a trend towards privatization but it did not prove to be financially sustainable.
Presently, policy level responsibilities in extension are carried by certain national level departments. Field extension services are provided by provincial administrations each of which covers many sub-districts and villages, within each district. Some of the recent extension-related projects are: “Village-Centered Agricultural Production Support Project (KOYMER)”; “Development of Agricultural Extension Project (TAR-GEL)”; Farmers Training by Television Project (YAY3EP); Agricultural Mechanization Training Center for Irrigated Areas Project; Agricultural Extension Services Support Project; Development of Organic Farming Project; Agricultural Extension Development Project; Young Farmers Training Project; Cooperatives Trading System Training Project; and the Project on Training of Rankers in Agricultural Issues.
In accordance with the Article 8 of the EU Regulation No. 1782/2003, the Turkish government prepared a regulation for agricultural extension and consultancy services in 2006. The regulation outlines rules and procedures for the provision of both public and non-public extension services by institutions and consultants. This development has encouraged the non-public actors such as farmers’ organizations, independent consultants in agriculture, agricultural consulting firms, and private companies involved in selling farm inputs and purchasing agricultural produce, and volunteer institutions, to enter the extension delivery domain. In 2009, for the first time in Turkey’s history, the government supported those farmers who purchased consultancy services from private service providers. It is reported that as many as 11 farmers’ associations hire agricultural consultants. While member farmers pay 50 percent of the operating costs, the Union of Turkish Chamber of Agriculture pays the remaining 50 percent. Consultants who are willing to reside in villages and to sign contracts with local institutions, such as farmers’ unions. Under this arrangement, 54 percent of the project cost (consultancy fee) is paid by local institutions while the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock and some private organizations pay the rest of the amount. In 2006, there were 1,021 hired consultants in 81 provinces, the number of consultants in each province being 10 to 15.
Certain government-operated enterprises such as Turkish Dairy Industry (TSEK), Turkish Beef and Fish Enterprise (EBK), and Tobacco and Tobacco Products Enterprise (TEKEL), that used to sell agricultural inputs to farmers and to facilitate the marketing of their produce, have since been privatized. As private entities, they raised their prices thus making it difficult for subsistence farmers to buy the inputs. Constraints faced by extension workers include inadequate staff, weak linkages between researchers, extension workers and farmers, insufficient coverage of livestock farmers, political interference, budget shortage, little coordination between relevant directorates, a lack of career incentives and benefits, and absence of farmers’ participation in program planning.
In 2009, Turkey received aid totaling $1.36 million mainly from the European Union, Japan, France, Germany and Spain. However, the country is now emerging more as a donor in recent years. The Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) now has offices to cover countries from Africa, Asia and the Balkans. It provides financial assistance in the areas of climate change, civil society dialogue, health, and capacity-building through South-South Cooperation.
Major institutions providing extension/advisory services
Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock
The Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock has overall responsibility for making policy decisions, draw regulations, planning and management of public and non-public extension services. The Ministry underwent re-structuring in 2011 and apparently its departments are still being re-organized. Uncertainty prevails about the present organizational structure due to mergers of some units, modification in functions, and change of unit titles, not to mention confusion caused by translation of organizational titles from Turkish into English by various authors. Presently, most relevant departments of the Ministry, for extension purposes, seem to be the Department of Farmer Training and Agricultural Extension, General Directorate of Agricultural Reform, General Directorate of Organization and Support (TEDGEM), Agriculture and Rural Development Support Institution, and Department of Women in Rural Development.
Provincial and District Agricultural Directorates
There are 81 provincial directorates and 803 district directorates within these provinces, which are responsible for providing public extension services to the farmers who live in thousands of villages. Each provincial directorate has six technical divisions: rural development and cooperatives; plant production and protection; food and feed; coordination and agricultural data (farmers training and extension); agricultural infrastructure and land use; animal health, breeding and fishery production.
Each district’s agricultural directorate has a team of subject-matter specialists covering different disciplines such as extension, livestock, cereal crops, horticulture, and veterinary. The district extension staff works through village level farmers’ extension groups (TARGEL). They plan, organize and monitor all extension activities including training of farmers, as well as in-service training of Village Group Technicians (VGTs). Some villages have village extension group centers. In 2004, the Village-Centered Agricultural Production Support Project (KOYMER), also called as “1000 agricultural consultants for 1000 villages”, implemented in 81 provinces, worked mainly through the farmers’ extension groups.
Central Research Institute for Field Crops (CRIFC)
Turkey has a number of agricultural research institutes located in various parts of the country which concentrate on research. However, the only institute that lists extension as one of its main activities (others are breeding, agronomy, and seed production) is CRIFC. The institute receives its funding from the government, but also operates projects which are funded by international organizations.
Universities with Faculties of Agriculture
The following universities in Turkey have faculties of agriculture: Adnan Menderes University; Akdeniz University; Ankara University; Ataturk University; Cukurova University; Ege University; Erciyes University; Harran University; Namik Kemal University; Osman Gazi University; Uludag University; Suleyman Demirel University. Some of them, like Cukurova University, have extension departments or extension as a major academic program. Most of these universities, with a few exceptions, have their websites in Turkish, so their scope of involvement in extension cannot be determined. It is, however, assumed that they do perform some extension and training functions as a part of their academic programs, community outreach activities, or as a part of collaboration with other institutions. Suleyman Demirel University, located in Isparata, Turkey, has a collaborative program in extension with Iowa State University.
Human Resources in Extension
The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Livestock was re-structured in 2011. Apparently, the re-organization is not yet finalized, and the coordination among the various departments of the Ministry and that between national and provincial offices of extension is not yet fully effective. That may be the reason why different documents consulted show different number of extension staff. A field study on extension human resources in both public and private sectors is needed to find out the real number and other particulars about the extension staff. Until then, some idea of the human resources in extension in Turkey may be obtained from the following information.
A survey conducted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) under Investment Assessment Project in 2009 shows the number of total agricultural extension staff in the government as 9,948 plus 62 extension staff in the area of rural development, and a total staff of 4,644 in the private sector. The source of this data is the General Directorate of Organization and Support, Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock.
A national consultant’s report prepared for the same FAO project indicates the total planned number of staff participating in extension operations (permanent staff) as 24,502 with the following breakdown: total staff for crop production 15,014, which includes 6,094 agricultural engineers/graduates, 1,354 technicians, and 7,566 agricultural technicians; total staff for livestock production 9,488, which includes 3,352 veterinarians, 309 health technicians and 5,827 veterinary health technicians. The source of this data is shown as the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock.
In a study, “Agricultural Extension and Advisory Services Worldwide”, facilitated by the International Food and Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and undertaken in collaboration with FAO and IICA (Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture), the total number of public extension staff in 2009 was shown as 5,262. The source of this data is the Extension Department of the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock.
In a Turkish Government’s six-monthly report on rural technology transfer in transition economies in Turkey prepared under the project, “Agro-economic policy analysis of the new member states, the candidate states and the countries of the western Balkan”, the total number of public extension staff as of 2006 has been shown as 16,674. The number comprises 6,965 agricultural engineers, 733 food engineers, 2,441 veterinarians, 1,819 veterinary assistants, 3,828 agricultural technicians, and 908 home economists. Data source
Table 1: Human Resources in Extension in Turkey as of 2009
Secondary School Diploma
2-3 Yr. Agric. Diploma
M.Sc. Agric. Degree
Field-level extension workers
Total extension staff: 5,262
Although government has taken quite a number of initiatives including the launching of some experimental projects and the preparation of regulations governing the provision of extension and advisory services by the private sector, yet extension services in Turkey still remain by and large public. No commercial companies have yet distinctly emerged which may be considered as actively engaged in advisory services for farmers. Presently, the emphasis is on developing the practice of individual agricultural consultants who could reside in villages and provide technical guidance to farmers’ associations. Hiring of such consultants by wealthy farmers is already happening.
There are many private companies which sell agricultural inputs and equipment to the farmers, and buy the farm products back from them. They may be doing some extension work during the promotion of their products such as organization of farmers’ meetings. A few examples of agricultural companies are given below.
Aksan Kardan Ltd; in the business of manufacture and trading agricultural items
SPN Agro Agricultural Products Co. Ltd; dealing in fertilizers and other chemicals
GETA Company Ltd; business of modern greenhouses and other agricultural products
Abbad Traders Olc.; engaged in the trade of black pepper, halal chickens, sunflower oil and other agricultural products
AR-GE Group Agricultural Foreign Trade Company Ltd; dealing in a variety of chemical and organic solid and liquid fertilizers
Taris Zeytin Olive and Olive Oil Company; a marketing company of olive cooperative unions with 28,000 producers; specializes in domestic and international marketing of olive, olive oil and soap
Detailed information on NGOs in Turkey may be found at the website of TUSEV, a foundation comprising over 100 foundations. Another rather unique organization is the NGO’s Training and Research Center at Istanbul Bilgi University, which contains useful information on its website.
NGOs in Turkey cover a variety of subjects such as related to human rights (examples: Turkish offices of Amnesty International, and Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly), women advocacy (examples: Women for Women’s Human Rights, and Women’s Consultation and Solidarity Center), environment (examples: Turkish Foundation of Re-forestation, Protection of Natural Resources and Combating Soil Erosion), humanitarian aid (examples: Kimse Yok Mu, and Humanitarian Aid Foundation), and modernization of society (examples: Support for Modern Life Association, and Ataturk Thought Association). Sources of funding for these NGOs include membership fee, grants from international institutions and governments, and private donations.
Two examples of NGOs, which are engaged in rural development and farmers’ assistance through various projects and field activities, are:
Turkish Development Foundation (TKV): The TKV is involved in the development of rural human resources including men, women and youth. It helps in forming rural organizations, carries out extension and home economics activities, and offers training courses in subjects like bee-keeping, poultry and carpet weaving.
Sustainable Development Association (SURKAL): SURKAL has implemented several rural development projects following participatory and human centered approaches.
Farmers-based associations, cooperatives and societies
Chamber of Agriculture (TZOB): TZOB is the biggest farmers’ association in Turkey, with the reported membership of over 4.8 million farmers in 2011. It receives financial support from the government, and claims to serve as a lobby for farmers. Membership is mandatory for farmers who want credit from the Bank of Agriculture and other cooperatives. The TZOB is best known for its German-supported Leader Farmer Project which tried to introduce private advisory services through individual advisors with partial success.
Cooperatives and Unions: Cooperatives’ matters are handled by the Directorate-General of Cooperatives located within the Ministry of Customs and Trade. A document, Turkish Cooperatives Strategy and Action Plan 2012-2016, has been prepared by the Directorate-General. The number of agriculture, fishery and marketing related cooperatives and unions in Turkey as of 2011 are as follows:
Table 2: Number of agriculture, fishery and marketing related cooperatives in Turkey as of 2011
Ministry of Food, Agriculture & Livestock
Agricultural Development Cooperatives
Beet Planters Cooperatives
Agricultural Credit Cooperatives
Ministry of Customs and Trade
Agricultural Sales Cooperatives
Tobacco Agricultural Sales Cooperatives
Raw Vegetables & Fruit Cooperatives
Supply & Delivery Cooperatives
Production Marketing Cooperatives
Total for both Ministries
Source: Turkish Cooperatives Strategy and Action Plan 2012-2016; Ministry of Customs and Trade
List of Extension Providers
The following list shows an excerpt from the GFRAS Directory of Extension Providers for Turkey. Some of these entries may be specially marked for having more detailed information in the database of the Worldwide Extension Study WWES.
Training options for extension professionals
Pre-service training for extension staff is available at several universities with faculties of agriculture some of which have been identified in a previous section. Some of these universities can organize special in-service training courses upon request. Major NGOs like Turkish Development Foundation (TKV) and Sustainable Development Association (SURKAL), which enjoy experience in rural development and capacity building, may also be reached for organizing training for the extension staff. In the private sector, certain companies engaged in the marketing of agricultural produce and products can be helpful in providing training at certain cost under collaborative arrangement.
The International Agricultural Research and Training Center, a part of the Directorate-General of Agricultural Research and Policies, located within the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock is a resourceful institution for in-service training of the extension staff. The Center offers international training programs in collaboration with the Turkish Cooperation and Development Agency (TIKA). In-service training in specific technical disciplines can also be arranged by institutions like Central Research Institute for Field Crops (CRIFC).
Info-mediaries and information and communication technology (ict) for agriculture and extension
According to the World Bank, in 2011, the number of mobile cellular subscriptions (per 100 people) in Turkey was 88.70. During the same year, the number of Internet users (per 100 people) in the country was 42.1. Turkey’s ICT market surpassed $26 billion in 2010. The share of information technologies in this growing market is about $7 billion and that for the communication technologies $17.5 billion. The Turkish software industry is dynamic and fast developing. The Turkish Telecommunication Inc. has been privatized. The government has announced several incentives for the development of ICT sector, and has invested about $675 million in 2010. Turkey is now involved in ICT foreign trade, which reached close to $ 12.3 billion in 2009.
The National Registry System for Farmers (NRSF) was established under the Agricultural Reform Implementation Project (2001 to 2007). Databases on direct income support system, agricultural support payment registration system, and seeds and seedlings business system have been developed. The web-based Statistics Institute of Turkey has agricultural statistics database for horticulture, livestock and fisheries production, food and food processing, forestry, land use, machines and equipment, agricultural inputs, market prices and employment. The State Meteorology Services are web-based providing free information on frost risk forecasts, soil temperature records, humidity forecast, harvest time, and agricultural practices guide for farmers. Rural Cadastral Registration has been computerized. The Central Research Institute for Field Crops maintains a GIS Center. On-field monitoring and early warning system networks have been established, and a large number of agriculture portals are available on the Internet covering topics like agricultural technologies, agricultural experts and consultants, livestock production, horticulture, producers’ organizations, agricultural fairs, etc.
Agricultural radio and television programs have been active in Turkey for decades. The Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock and Anadolu University (the State Radio and Television institution) launched the Extensive Farmer Education through Television Project (YAYCEP) in 1991. As of 2006, about 430,000 registered farmers had benefitted from this distance education program. Each television program is copied and distributed on videocassette to each district extension office, which can use it for farmers’ training and other extension activities.
Resources and references
Boyaci, M. (2006). Agricultural extension education in Turkish agricultural faculties. International Journal of Agriculture & Biology, 1560-8530/2006/08-3-410-416.
Boyaci, M. (no date; probably 2008). How can agricultural extension system in Turkey be sustainable?
Boz, I. (2002). Does early adoption affect farmers’ use of the extension service? Journal of International Agricultural and Extension Education, Vol. 9, Number 3, Pp. 77-82.
Cebeci, Z. (no date; probably 2011). National Agricultural ICM/ICT Status in Turkey; PowerPoint presentation; available at:
FAO (2009). Report of the Agricultural Extension Survey of Turkey carried out under the Investment Assessment Project
FAO (2009). National Consultant’s Report on Turkey prepared for the Investment Assessment Project
Government of Turkey (2005). D12-3 Fourth 6-monthly report: Rural Technology Transfer in Transition Economies in Turkey; prepared for the CEEC Agri Policy, “Agro economic policy analysis of the new member states, the candidate states and the countries of the western Balkan”.
Guney, O., D. Ozturk and O. Bicer (no date; probably 1996). The present situation of extension service organization in Turkey.
Kizilaslan, N. (2010). Agricultural extension policies in Turkey.
Kundak, S. (1967). Home economics extension activities in Turkey. Paper presented at the CENTO Conference on Agricultural Extension held in Ankara-Denizli-Izmir, Turkey; April 12 to 22, 1967. Report prepared by the Office of U.S. Economic Coordinator for CENTO Affairs.
Lemeilleur, S., C. Bignebat and JM. Cordon (2007). Marketing Cooperative vs. Producers’ Agent: The Turkish Dilemma in Modern FFV Market. Paper presented at the I Mediterranean Conference on Agro-Food Social Scientists’ 103rd EAAE Seminar, “Adding Value to the Agro-Food Supply Chain in the Future Euro-Mediterranean Space”, held at Barcelona, Spain, 23-25 April, 2007.
Ministry of Customs and Trade, Republic of Turkey (2012). Turkish Cooperatives Strategy and Action Plan 2012-2016.
Ozcatalbas, O. (2011). The agricultural extension in Turkey. YAK 631.115 (075.8).
Ozcatalbas, O. and H. Akcaoz (2010). Rural women and agricultural extension in Turkey. Journal of Food, Agriculture & Environment Vol. 8 (1), Pp 261-267, 2010
Saricali, I. (1967). Agricultural Extension Programs in Turkey. Paper presented at the CENTO Conference on Agricultural Extension held in Ankara-Denizli-Izmir, Turkey; April 12 to 22, 1967. Report prepared by the Office of U.S. Economic Coordinator for CENTO Affairs.
Savran, F., K. Demiryurek, O. Ozcatalbas, A. Akin and I. Boz (2011). The agricultural extension system and practices in Turkey. Scientific Research and Essays Vol. 6 (8), Pp. 1831-1838; 18 April, 2011.
Sezgin, A. and K. Karadas (2011). An analysis of the effect of agricultural extension methods on the utilization of agricultural supports: The case of Erzurum Province in Turkey. African Journal of Agricultural Research, Vol. 6 (31), Pp 6537-6541, 19 December 2011.
Swanson, B. E. and R. Rajalahti (2010). Strengthening Agricultural Extension and Advisory Systems: Procedures for Assessing, Transforming, and Evaluating Extension Systems. The World Bank Agriculture and Rural Development Discussion Paper 44.
Turkoglu, Y. (2010). ICT Sector in Turkey. IGEME-Export Promotion Center of Turkey; available at:
World Bank (2011). ICT in Agriculture; Connecting Smallholders to Knowledge, Networks, and Institutions; Report No. 64605
Authored by M. Kalim Qamar (November 2012)
Edited by Burton E. Swanson