How can the government find out how the agricultural sector is really doing? In which ways can the sector be improved? How much energy and pesticides are being used? Are the farmers being innovative enough? And how do the farmers themselves know they’re on the right track or which improvements they could make? Answering these types of question requires knowledge and a representative databank, such as the Bedrijven-Informatienet of Wageningen LEI, the Dutch version of the EU-wide Farm Accountancy Data Network (FADN). As a candidate EU member state, Turkey is currently developing its own version with the support and expertise of Wageningen LEI.
The LEI research institute, part of Wageningen University & Research, provides economic and social scientific expertise and knowledge in the areas of agriculture and horticulture to governments, science institutions and industry. A major source of information in the Netherlands is the Dutch Farm Accountancy Data Network (FADN), which collects current data on a wide range of subjects from a large number of agricultural and horticultural businesses that jointly represent around 95 percent of Dutch production. This data forms the basis for comprehensive policymaking by governments and well-founded operational management by farmers and horticulturalists.
Leveraging on the experience and expertise acquired in the Dutch network, LEI is now helping Turkey to develop its own version of a FADN. The decision to implement this was taken by the Turkish Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock following a successful pilot project from 2007 to 2009.
The FADN is a Twinning project between EU countries. Cemre Özcanli is the Twinning counterpart on behalf of the Turkish Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock, and therefore closely involved in the project which started in May 2011. “There is a significant hunger for information among farmers in Turkey. Many do not maintain proper paperwork, let alone compare their own practices to those of other farmers. Turkish farmers don’t know how to increase their turnover, which is why they fail to do so. The interest in taking part in the FADN was therefore considerable. Some 350 farmers registered for the pilot project, and we now have around 800 participants. When we extend the system to whole country, our aim is to collect data from 14.000-15.000 holdings, at which point the data will be sufficiently representative and manageable.”
Manageability is an important issue. In the Netherlands, the data is mainly collected electronically; via existing databases from banks and the Dutch Cattle Syndicate (NRS), for example, and by means of highly advanced ICT. “In Turkey we give farmers a cashbook in which they write down the requested data,” continues Özcanli. “This is quite a challenge as many farmers are not used to keeping this information up to date. But it is going well. The data is streaming in, and thanks to LEI, the data flow is understandable and can be used for analyses and advice. We were glad to work with the experts from LEI.”
The next step will be to introduce the FADN more widely within the Ministry and the agricultural sector to create a solid foundation. “At that point we will be able to make the most of the FADN and bring the sector to a higher level.”