Partnership to Train Turkish Women Farmers Extends to the Municipality of Korkuteli

Sebahat Kilinc, left, a Turkish farmer, is interviewed by Robin Brumfield, center, and Burhan Ozkan of Akdeniz University, Turkey.

Robin Brumfield, professor in the Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics and extension specialist in farm business management, Rutgers Cooperative Extension, will be in Turkey from Jan. 21-29 to train 20 Turkish women farmers how to sustain and scale profitable agricultural businesses. Brumfield will be joined by Professor Burhan Özkan, professor and specialist in farm management at Akdeniz University, in Antalya, Turkey. This training is part of the expanding Suzanne’s Project, which is a collaboration between Rutgers and Akdeniz University and that has now grown to include a partnership with the Korkuteli Vocational School and the Municipality of Korkuteli.

Suzanne’s Project offers entrepreneurial and technical skills

 Suzanne’s Project, a program conducted by a partnership between Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and Akdeniz University is training approximately 20 small-scale Turkish women farmers who grow mushrooms in Korkuteli, Turkey, from January 21 -29.  This training is in partnership with the Korkuteli Vocational School and the Municipality of Korkuteli.

Inspired by the impact of Annie’s Project, a nationally recognized risk management educational program for female farmers operating in the United States, Robin Brumfield, New Jersey’s Annie’s Project co-leader and extension specialist in farm management at Rutgers, co-founded Suzanne’s Project in Antalya, Turkey, in August 2011 with Burhan Özkan, professor and specialist in Farm Management, and Advisor to Rector, Akdeniz University, Antalya, Turkey.

Suzanne’s Project was adapted to train Turkish women farmers on the basic skills and best practices necessary for them to sustain and scale profitable agricultural businesses. “Women currently account for approximately 45% of Turkey’s agricultural workforce,” said Brumfield. “We implemented Suzanne’s Project because we recognize that women farmers are critical agents for enhancing agricultural and rural development and food security in Turkey,” she added.

 The project team, which includes other faculty members from Korkuteli Vocational School–part of Akdeniz University, will provide specialized training in a number of areas, including business management, information technologies, alternative production systems, soil productivity, plant nutrition and irrigation, integrated and controlled pest management. The goal is to help women farmers pursue opportunities to start new ventures, upgrade or improve existing businesses, expand their customer base or enter new markets.

 The program also includes training in basic computer literacy. Brumfield and Özkan will teach the farm business management topics. By the end of the course, the women will develop a business plan for their farms and craft a mission statement.

 The mission of Suzanne’s Project is to develop the technical and managerial capacities of Turkish women farmers through education, while supporting the region’s economic advancement toward sustainable agriculture and gender equality. Among the objectives of this project are to examine the participants’ socio-economic status, obtain a better understanding of their farming system and determine their level of interest in improved production technologies, business planning and management strategies, and to demonstrate new tools for best farm practices.

To initiate the project last year in Antalya, Brumfield and Özkan conducted a needs assessment and feasibility study to identify priority needs, interests and capacities of women farmers in Turkey. By enabling each woman to participate actively in her own development, the results from the initial survey helped to determine the final training program for the project.

The intended impact of Suzanne’s Project will be primarily measured by the women’s ability to use agricultural and enterprise skills to calculate and manage the risks of changing their patterns and methods of production. In addition, they will be assessed on improvements in their business practices and enterprise planning skills, especially their ability to take advantage of new or growing markets–an indication that women farmers are beginning to think entrepreneurially, analyzing their situation and identifying income-generating, cost-saving and environmentally sound activities.