18 April 2014, Friday
Today's Zaman

Healthy seeds crucial for healthy diet and more

5 August 2012, Sunday /GAMZE GÜL
Healthy eating is the key to a healthy life, and seeds, a good source of vitamins and minerals, are a vital part a balanced diet, a recent report from the İstanbul Chamber of Commerce (İTO) has said.

The report of earlier this year states that due to developments in the agricultural sector over the past 20 years, consumers have become more cautious, confused and unsure about the ingredients contained in the products they buy. “The presence of genetically modified organisms [GMOs] in particular has deepened concerns among consumers, as producers have failed to answer their questions,” says the author of the report, Professor Halim Aydın. He has warned that if the state does not take precautionary measures to protect the rich natural seed resources of the country, it may lead to a less healthy population, as the quality of the seeds and their purity could decline.

“As a society, we are longing for natural products, in a country where there are up to 7,000 varieties of natural seeds available, 4,000 of them native seeds, compared to a total of around 4,000 seed varieties available on the whole European continent,” reads the report. It explains that younger members of society, as well as those living in larger cities, are tending to seek out new tastes and explore world cuisines, but that they fail to notice the hundreds of healthy agricultural products of their own country. Furthermore, tourists visiting Turkey tend to only be aware of easily accessible food sold in restaurants, rather than comprehending the diverse ingredients, such as unique seed varieties, contained within. If these seeds are not properly marketed to consumers, demand may decline, and they could become endangered, damaging Turkey’s biologic diversity and contributing to the homogenization of the food consumed by society.

The report emphasizes that these rich agricultural resources are capable of generating greater profits for Turkey. But in order to expand into international markets, the products must be grown and packaged in conformity with high standards, in addition to employing profit-generating marketing techniques. If this opportunity is properly realized, it could lead to rural development by creating jobs in rural areas and subsequently reducing migration to cities. Such agricultural production would also generate more income and so have an impact on the living standards of those in rural areas.

The report advises that an inventory be compiled of the seed varieties produced by Turkey and the locations in which the seeds grow, and further suggests that incentives be provided by the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock to encourage continued production. It calls for seed varieties to be introduced to the public, not only in the places where they are grown but also at city markets, and that they could appear on television cookery shows. Tourism agencies, the report states, could offer food or farm tours to raise awareness among tourists and Turkish citizens alike, reviving this corner of the agricultural market.

The report stresses the necessity of protecting Turkey’s rich seed resources and ensuring they continue to be grown, sold and consumed. With climate change leading to difficult farming conditions, such as drought, in some areas, it is important to preserve this diverse resource against the threat of extinction, so that future generations continue to reap the benefits.

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