The collaboration between International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) and Turkey, one of the most developed countries in its region regarding the sphere of agricultural production, continues since the very beginning of the establishment of the Center in 1977. Turkey signed a Memorandum of Understanding with ICARDA in 1986, and the Ankara Office of the Center was opened in 1990.
In accordance with a relevant decision of the Turkish Council of Ministers, Turkey began to make financial contributions to CGIAR (Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research) in 2005, the network under the auspices of which ICARDA undertakes its activities. This has enabled Turkey to acquire the status of “donor country”.
Being a CGIAR member since 2005, Turkey contributed more than 875.000 USD to ICARDA during the period between 2005 and 2010. The amount Turkey contributed to ICARDA was 120.000 USD in 2010.
From the outset of its cooperation with ICARDA, Turkish experts have supported the activities of the Center in various ways. Many Turkish experts have also taken part in the Board of Trustees in the course of the last thirty years. Apart from Prof. Dr. Fahrettin Tosun (1978-1983), Dr. Nazmi Demir (1986-1992) and Prof. Dr. Ersin İstanbulluoğlu (1993-1998), Assoc. Prof. Masum Burak has become a member of the Board in 2010 and continues to hold his position thenceforth.
Many projects have been implemented jointly by Turkey and ICARDA over the years. The Regional Development Agency of the Southeastern Anatolia Project (GAP-RDA), a multi-sector and integrated regional development effort directed at 9 administrative provinces of Turkey, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Center on 26 June 1998, which provided a significant momentum for our collaboration with ICARDA. With the signing of the said Memorandum, the parties agreed to develop joint projects on the issues of research, transfer of technology and the improvement of human resources as a regional development strategy. Under the same Memorandum, they also decided to launch joint conferences and workshops and to exchange academic publications, staff and information
The first project, which was launched in 1999 in accordance with the aforementioned Memorandum, was about developing seed systems with the aim of diversifying the improved crop varieties and enabling seeds to be produced in a local framework extended to farmers.
Another project launched under the same Memorandum was about the improvement of natural pastures. Named as “the Project on Improvement of Natural Pastures and Forage Crops and Small Ruminant Production”, this project aimed to improve the income level of farmers by reinforcing the development of small ruminant production. It also intended to decrease the migration from the country side and to reverse the degradation of land.
Among the international events jointly organized by ICARDA and GAP-RDA comes to the forefront the workshop entitled “the Rural Development Strategies of GAP: From Vision to Action.” Held on 27-30 November 2001, the workshop was attended by several experts from the World Bank, UN Food and Agriculture Organization. During the workshop, national and international experiences on rural development were exchanged.
GAP continues its cooperation with ICARDA through various activities, which aim at rehabilitating the pastures, supporting future land improvement and rangeland management, improving the production of wheat, barley, lentil and chickpea, and ameliorating the farming conditions.
The collaboration between Turkey and ICARDA was taken one step further with the visit of H.E. Mr. Mehdi Eker, the Turkish Minister of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, to ICARDA Headquarters in Aleppo on 24-25 March 2011. During this visit, the Memorandum of Understanding between Turkey and ICARDA, which was initially signed in 1986, was renewed in accordance with current needs as well as cooperation opportunities created by modern technology. It was also agreed during the visit that the collaboration between Turkey and the Center will be strengthened further through the joint activities to be held in the following period.