The introductory meeting of the Mera İzmir project, which was initiated with the vision of “Another Agriculture is Possible” of Tunç Soyer, the Mayor of İzmir Metropolitan Municipality, was held in Bergama. President Soyer, who signed a product purchase contract with 258 shepherds within the scope of the first phase of the project, said, "Today, I am very happy to light our shepherd's fire in Bergama, whose sparks I am sure will spread all over our country."
An introductory meeting of the Mera İzmir project was held in Bergama Örenli District, in line with the İzmir Agriculture strategy, which was created with the vision of İzmir Metropolitan Municipality Mayor Tunç Soyer, “Another Agriculture is Possible” and based on combating drought and poverty. President Tunç Soyer, who signed a product purchase contract with 258 shepherds within the scope of the first phase of the project, said, “We are lighting the shepherd's fire from İzmir Bergama. Today, in the first phase of our Mera İzmir project, we are signing a product purchase agreement with 258 shepherd brothers from Bergama and Kınık. We are already investing 2 million 538 thousand 240 liras in advance to our producer for the milk we will supply in April. We will make other agreements in a short time," he said.
“We have determined a price above the market value”
Stating that the shepherds with whom the purchase agreement has been made have determined a price above the market value, Mayor Soyer said, “We pay 11 liras for sheep's milk, which is eight liras, and 10 liras for goat's milk, which is six liras. The reason for this is that the producers we have chosen produce environmentally friendly and healthy milk that meets the criteria of Another Agriculture. For this reason, instead of silage corn, which consumes excessive water for their animals, we buy milk from producers who only feed domestic fodder crops. For a milk purchase agreement, we require animals to graze on the pasture for a minimum of seven months. We ensure that the milk of animals that roam freely in the pasture and eat climate-friendly feed are collected separately from other milks.
“It will protect the health of millions of our citizens”
Emphasizing that Baysan, the municipal company, will purchase cattle and sheep at a price that is five percent more than the market price, Mayor Soyer continued his words as follows: “This corresponds to more than 750 liras for a calf and more than 100 liras for lambs. The meat and milk we buy will be processed at Baysan's milk and meat facilities in Bayındır and Ödemiş. From here, it will be made available to millions of people in our city with another Agriculture certificate. It will protect the health of both nature and millions of our citizens. It will ensure that our producer is fed in the place where he was born.”
Local artists gave a concert at the promotional meeting in Bergama. The famous clarinet virtuoso Hüsnü Şenüldü also had pleasant moments.
In addition to Mayor Tunç Soyer, Deputy Mayor of Izmir Metropolitan Municipality Mustafa Özuslu, Mayor of Dikili Adil Kırgöz, Mayor of Foça Fatih Gürbüz, Mayor of Torbalı Mithat Tekin, Republican People's Party (CHP) Bergama District President Mehmet Ecevit Canbaz, Metropolitan bureaucrats, city council members, farmers and producers.
“The collapse of Turkish agriculture is not a coincidence”
In his speech, Chairman Tunç Soyer also explained why they set out by saying "Another Agriculture is Possible". Soyer said, “The Law on Seeds adopted in our country in 2006 was a great blow to the agriculture of Turkey. With this law, the sale of unregistered local seeds was prohibited. Our seeds and native races that fed the people who lived on this land for thousands of years were liquidated in one day. In 2012, one of the most unfortunate decisions of our Republic history was taken. 16 thousand 220 villages were closed and turned into neighborhoods. In those years, we came together with hundreds of village headmen in the Historical Parliament of the Ancient City of Teos and shouted our reaction against the villages closed by the Metropolitan Law and started our struggle. We said this: Villages should not become neighborhoods. We said that if this happens, Turkey's agriculture will collapse. Too bad we were right. In the 10 years since the law was passed, Turkey's agriculture has been damaged, bruised and shrunk at a level that no segment of the society can deny. It is not a coincidence that Turkey's agriculture collapsed, our villages were emptied, and millions of people in the cities were deprived of healthy and cheap food. The result of the two legal regulations I mentioned above. For this reason, we no longer reap abundance in Turkish agriculture, but drought and poverty.”
“We encourage pasture animal husbandry”
Stating that they created a new agricultural policy that all Turkey needs in order to put an end to this great injustice in İzmir and to fight against poverty and drought, President Soyer emphasized that with İzmir Agriculture, they described how another agriculture could be possible and implemented it step by step. Saying that the focus of the fight against poverty is to strengthen small producers and cooperatives, Soyer said, “We are building İzmir Agriculture by supporting the unions formed by small producers. We invest not only in the added value of our products, but also in their intrinsic value. By better understanding and explaining our already valuable products, we increase the sales and marketing capabilities of our small producer. Because we know that in order to protect the whole, we need to strengthen and protect all the bonds that make it up. For example, with Terra Madre, which we will organize in September 2022, we are opening the doors of world food trade to all small producers of Turkey from İzmir.”
Stating that they support ancestral seeds and native breeds to combat drought, Soyer said, “We are gradually reducing the forage crops that cause excessive water consumption by encouraging pasture livestock. Instead, we are expanding the forage plants that are grown with natural precipitation without irrigation. The Mera İzmir project, which brings us together today, and the support system we offer to İzmir's shepherds, are the results of this vision.”
“There is no such pasture inventory in any other city”
Explaining what has been done with the Mera İzmir project to combat drought and poverty at the same time, Soyer said, “First of all, we established a field team of ten people who visited the villages in all districts of İzmir one by one and met with shepherds and other small producers. Our team interviewed all the shepherds of İzmir one by one and researched the animal breeds, numbers, how much and what type of feed they ate in our pastures. During the study, 946 villages were visited. In 584 of these, it was observed that pasture livestock farming continued. A total of 4 thousand 160 shepherds were interviewed and it was determined that there are at least 110 thousand 430 pasture animals in İzmir, including 352 thousand 185 goats, 15 thousand 489 sheep, 478 thousand 104 black cattle. The locations of these animals were determined on the basis of coordinates. I must proudly state that there is no other province in our country that has such a comprehensive range of pasture inventory.”
“We will purchase 12,5 million liters of ovine milk”
Saying that tens of thousands of rows of data collected were brought together at the İzmir Agricultural Development Center in Sasalı, Soyer said, “As a result of this study, it was revealed where, from which producer and how much climate-friendly milk can be obtained. All these data were conveyed to our Municipality's agricultural company Baysan, and a purchase plan was drawn up from there. The purchasing plan is implemented together with our cooperatives in the regions where pasture livestock breeding is intense. Our target is to purchase 7.5 million liters of sheep's milk and 5 million liters of goat's milk, and a total of 12.5 million liters of sheep's milk in the upcoming period. In this context, we will make a contracted milk production agreement with approximately 500 shepherds through our cooperatives. In addition, we will buy 5 thousand 300 thousand black cattle and 50 thousand sheep,” he said.
President Soyer concluded his words as follows: “We will bring you together with the opportunities that these lands have given you. And together we will break the back of poverty. Your children will say, 'I am glad I am a shepherd in this land'. We're not going to give up on this until we get them to say it."
The cooperative in the liquidation process is back in operation
At the meeting in Bergama, the president and representatives of the chambers of agriculture in the region thanked President Soyer for his support for agriculture and animal husbandry. The partners of the Armağanlar Village Agricultural Development Cooperative, which entered the liquidation process, also stated that they gave up their decision and reactivated the cooperative thanks to the Mera İzmir project and said to Soyer, "We thank you very much for protecting the efforts of our farmers and producers."