Turkey’s limited agricultural land is increasingly affected by competition from mutually exclusive land uses. Demands on the land for cropping, grazing, forestry and industrial and urban development are greater than the land resources available, especially as land users from various sectors compete in the same areas to achieve food security, nature conservation and other objectives.
To find a balance among these different demands and to assure agricultural production while protecting the environment, integrated land-use planning has become a major need in Turkey.
As a response, today the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry of Turkey, launched the Integrated Land-Use Planning (ILUP) for Food Security by Enhancing Climate Resilience and Ecosystem Management project at an inception meeting in Ankara.
The project launch included high-level representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry of Turkey and experts from FAO.
In his opening remarks, FAO’s Viorel Gutu, the Subregional Coordinator for Central Asia and FAO Representative in Turkey, outlined the significance of land in agriculture and rural development, including soil, water, vegetation and other natural resources.
“Humanity has used lands to respond to multiple societal demands, varying from food security to shelter and other cultural needs,” Gutu said. “And now, especially in the face of climate change, selecting the right land use has become essential to ensure the sustainable use of land resources while also minimizing land degradation and rehabilitating degraded land.”
Soils are sine qua non for food production, stated Bekir Pakdemirli, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry of Turkey, emphasizing the need to treat them well for future generations.
“We receive 90 percent of our food demand from soils,” he said. “Noting the global increase in population and the rising impacts of climate change and desertification, fertile lands are under major threat. In 2050, Turkey’s population will be 100 million, and urbanization will have increased 86 percent. Thus, we need to conserve to ensure food security.”
Funded under FAO’s Technical Cooperation Programme (TCP), the project aims to create a national guide on land-use planning and to develop the capacities of small-scale farmers.
During the event, FAO programme officer Sheikh Ahaduzzaman shared FAO’s contributions to reinforcing Turkey’s agricultural land policies for sustainable development. Additionally, Hakki Emrah Erdogan, an FAO land-use policy expert, underlined the importance of the sustainable use of land resources and presented the FAO approach for integrated planning.