2019 Europe/Middle East/Africa, Ambassador Winner

Kut-San Agricultural Marketing - Kirazlik, Turkey

As the saying goes, the only paradise is paradise lost. Along the Turkish coast of the Black Sea, Cem Tolga Korkut would rather the local bird sanctuary never reach that point.

Prominent crops in the country include rice and hazelnut as well as onion and sugar beet.

Korkut, the General Manager of Kut-San Agricultural Marketing, is committed to protecting the Kızılırmak Delta Bird Paradise. The sanctuary, based in the province of Samsun, is entered on the UNESCO World Heritage Centre’s tentative list. The organization notes that the Kızılırmak Delta is home to 561 plant species, 352 bird species, and 29 fish species.

“It is one of the unmatched paradises of our region and our country,” Korkut says.

It is also surrounded by agriculture.

“This region, where especially rice cultiv ation is intense, is threatened over time, Korkut says. “Owing to both the pesticides used and the lack of water management, birds in the Bird Paradise and in the region are under threat.”

Kut-San has responded by organizing trainings for farmers and dealers in the region and encouraging them to take precautions to protect the sanctuary. “Our farmers have been provided with trainings and field demonstrations to ensure use of the right equipment, and that the least possible damage is caused by the pesticide,” Korkut says.

Kut-San goes to great lengths to protect “one of the unmatched paradises” in Turkey.

The rice-growing area (paddy fields) in the region totals 350,000 decare. Meanwhile, a serious resistance has developed in weeds, Korkut says, due to employment of incorrect techniques and excessive use of herbicides. “To address this issue, meetings, posters, and training sessions were held with our farmers, thereby contributing to the use of correct dose and techniques that would decrease the herbicide amounts used to reasonable levels. This has been helpful in reducing the harmful effects of excessive herbicide use to groundwater, birds, aquatic animals, humans, and animals.”

Rice isn’t the only prevalent crop in Turkey, whose agricultural economy ranks among the top 10 in the world. There are 700,000 hectares of hazelnut in the country, accounting for 70% of the world’s production. The region with the highest hazelnut production density is the Eastern Black Sea region, which is part of Kut-San’s territory. “This region is mountainous, bearing various challenges for the production of agricultural hazelnuts,” Korkut says. “There is soil erosion in certain regions due to the application total of herbicides in hazelnut fields. To prevent this, it is encouraged to apply weed control using mechanization tools instead of herbicides.”

Other issues of concern to Korkut include:

The need to reduce nitrogen contamination to groundwater and emission to the atmosphere through evaporation and due to the use of nitrate fertilizers. “For this purpose, various studies are carried out in potato and corn production by using new technological products,” Korkut says. “In addition to this subject, we participated in environmental projects of some of big producers that aim to reduce contamination to nature.”

Counterfeit (illegal and fraudulent) pesticides. “Fourteen percent of pesticides used in Europe and Turkey are fake and illegal pesticides. This is a very serious problem in our country,” Korkut says. “Since the content of illegal pesticides is unknown, it causes both dangerous and serious damages to the environment. We support the awareness-raising activities for illegal pesticides initiated by Corteva in our region. We are in cooperation with both the legal institutions and the companies we work with.”