Haci Omer Guler, who was elected as the President of the Turkish Seed Growers Association (TÜRKTOB), evaluated the developments in the seed sector for EKONOMI daily.
Stating that the sector has grown 10-fold in the last 20 years, Guler said that the 80 percent dependence on foreign sources of seed has completely ended, and that the sector now exports to 132 countries and has a foreign trade surplus.
Stating that the inflationary environment and difficulties in accessing financing have led to a decrease in the use of certified seeds, Guler underlined that this may lead to a decrease in production and exports.
TÜRKTOB is the umbrella organization of 7 associations operating in the sector, including seed industrialists, plant breeding, saplings, seedlings, ornamental plants, seed distributors and seed growers. The sector’s production, which was around 140 thousand tons in the early 2000s, has exceeded 1 million 360 thousand tons today.
Stating that the sector exported USD 235 million worth of certified seeds in the January-September period this year, Guler said that ornamental plants sector realized an export of USD 82.2 million and import of USD 47.3 million.
Stating that the seed sector has shown a 10-fold growth performance since the 2000s, Guler said that although they have reached a very important point, there is still a long way to go. Stating that they are a sector hungry for success, Guler noted that the general foreign dependency has come to an end; the ratio of exports to imports in seedlings, saplings and seeds has reached up to 173 percent.
Noting that they have now started preparations to formulate a strategy for the future of the sector, and therefore the future of Turkish agriculture, Guler said: “We have reached a new threshold. The world has started to use smart seeds. Technology in this field has come to very advanced points. We are working to ensure that the Turkish seed industrialists and the sector catch up with the technology and move ahead of it.”
“100 percent local and national seed”
Stating that seeds without genetic resources are also produced in Turkey, Hacı Ömer Güler said that their main goal is to increase both the genetic resources and the production of 100 percent domestic and national seeds produced here. Güler explained that Turkey is a little behind in terms of genetic resources in beet, cotton, sunflower and corn.
Emphasizing that the sector, which currently has a 2 percent share in world trade, ranks 10th, Guler said, “We have made great progress, but there are still 9 countries ahead of us that we need to overtake.”
Legislation needs an update
Explaining that the sector is still governed by the law enacted 15 years ago, Guler stated that there is a need to update the legislation in line with changing conditions. Pointing out that a different support model should be created for the entire sector, Guler said that there is a need for qualified companies that carry out R&D, develop varieties and export them, rather than an excess in the number of producers. Emphasizing that not everyone should be a seed producer, Guler said that it is better to develop existing companies.
“Lack of access to finance affects production”
TÜRKTOB President Guler stated that there is no problem in credit utilization in the sector, but the limits are very insufficient. “Both difficulties in access to finance and the inflationary environment reduce the demand for certified seed. This leads to a decrease in average productivity and quality. It also poses a danger for export target markets and sectoral self-sufficiency” Guler said.
“If there is no food security, there is no point in weapons”
Stating that seed is a matter of national security as a strategic product, Haci Omer Guler said, “It directly affects food security. Countries, no matter what technology they have, will fail if they do not have food. In the future, countries that hold food in their hands will be superior to those with advanced weapons technology.”