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Organic Agriculture Workshop at OMU
17 June 2022, Friday - 17:06
Updated: 17 June 2022, Friday - 17:06
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The "Organic Agriculture Workshop" by Ondokuz Mayıs University (OMU), where halal food, non-GMO products and organic agriculture will be discussed, started with the opening speeches.

The aim of the workshop, of which the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry is a stakeholder, is to determine the current status and potential of organic agriculture; to evaluate the organic agriculture projects that have been and will be made; to transfer the knowledge on organic production of agricultural products; to examine the production of yield taken from the farm and the field in accordance with the halal food procedure and to discuss the history, present status and future of GMO products.

Prof. Dr. Yavuz Unal, OMU Rector,  Prof. Dr. Fehmi Yazici, Vice Rector,  Prof. Dr. Cengiz Batuk, Vice Rector,  Prof. Dr. Muharrem Ozcan, Dean of the Faculty of Agriculture,  Zafer Soylu, Chairman of the Board of Halal Accreditation Agency, Dr. Kibar Ak, Director of the Black Sea Agricultural Research Institute, Muhlis Akar, Counselor of the Presidency of Religious Affairs, Cahit Tuz, Chairman of the Board of Bio Woow Organics, Emine Ataman, Founder of the Seed Platform,  academicians and students attended the event held at Atatürk Congress and Culture Center.

The two-day workshop, which started with the protocol speeches, will end with table meetings and workshop report presentations.

'We are talking about our future'

Rector Unal started his speech by talking about the importance of Organic Agriculture for the future and said: “The topic we will focus on today is called organic agriculture, but first of all, I would like to make a small explanation about the background of the name. In fact, we will not only talk about agriculture but our future. Halal, organic, healthy food:  Yes, these are all important questions. The answers to these questions are also the issues that need to be discussed. When we look at the developments in the world together with the climate change we are going through at this point, we are actually talking about our future. The freedom of a state depends on its economic and military power; however, ontologically, it also depends on the investment we make in agriculture or food. If we can feel free about food in the future; if we can think that we can be self-sufficient in the future; if we think that we will eat healthily, our anxiety about the future will be less. Because with climate change, the main agenda is the self-sufficiency of the country or cities.”

'Halal and clean food are two important parameters'

Rector Unal drew attention to the importance of creating halal and clean food in the food production process and further added: “Even if each intervention to the natural products economically yields more, after a while, it ends up as a medical cost. In terms of beliefs, there are two concepts in question. There are parameters between halal and haram. The form of slaughter may be halal, but the additives used may have advanced to a different context. We do not know how the shelf life extension of the additives in question affects our health. We don't know what effect it has on our lives. I believe this should be one of the issues that we should pay attention to.”

‘Food should be given importance in R&D studies’

Rector Unal stated that an important part of the investment in R&D studies should be made in food and said: “Discussing food in its entirety as a context appears to be a necessity. This workshop emerged from this background. We are particularly sensitive about shifting R&D to food. Because we believe that special attention should be paid to the food sector for the future of humanity. As OMU, we carry out our studies on food. We are working on halal food accreditation. By completing our work as soon as possible, we want to facilitate the work of the investors, institutions and organizations that will work in this field.”

'We will do our part'

Rector Unal stated that they, as OMU, are aware of what needs to be done about food and said: “As the most important actor of the region, Ondokuz Mayis University is an institution with a half-century history and strong clusters in almost every field and we will do what we have to do to facilitate cooperation and interdisciplinary cooperation between institutions, both with the external sectors and within ourselves. We will take whatever role it needs. I would like to thank every participant from the ministry and institutions. I believe we will reach a guiding report at the end of the workshop. I would also like to thank my colleagues for their hard work in the preparation of the workshop.”

'We must reverse the agricultural and food policies that will be imposed on us in the future'

Emphasizing the need to try grounded policies in agriculture, Emine Ataman, Founder of Seed Platform, stated: “We need to be concerned with agriculture not only to feed ourselves but also to earn money. Therefore, in our new R&D studies, we should determine what we will eat and how much we will eat in the future and what other countries want to eat and what they want to consume. We also should produce policies in accordance with our culture and belief so that we can reverse the agricultural and food policies that will be imposed on us in the future.

‘The workshop will lead to institutional transformations’

Underlining that they are a company operating in organic agriculture, Cahit Tuz, Chairman of Bio Woow Organics, said: “I find it extremely important to organize such a program at the university. And I hope that the workshop will continue to operate and lead to institutional transformations. These institutional transformations will be reflected in production and will provide significant added value. We, as individuals and as a country, can benefit positively from these academic reflections. At the workshop, we will have the opportunity to discuss every aspect of the business. I think that such studies are very valuable not only for a certain sector but also for the whole country.

‘Even though the additives comply with the regulation, they disrupt the nature of the work’

Speaking after Cahit Tuz, Prof. Dr. Muharrem Ozcan, Dean of the Faculty of Agriculture, said: “Agriculture has been a strategic product since the existence of humanity. Its importance was better understood when its absence was felt. When we look at the developments in the world, there is an increase in population and a decrease in agricultural lands. On the other hand, there are various problems in access to food. When we, as agriculturalists, look at food production, there is no problem in production. However, access to food is a problem. Environmentally friendly production technologies and food preparation without harming the environment and without harming the consumer at the consumption stage are the issues that attract attention at this point. Although the additives are used in accordance with the food regulations, they disrupt the nature of the work. We are trying to reduce air, soil and water pollution by reducing the use of pesticides. We are also struggling to protect the deteriorated biological balance. We are doing our best to ensure an adequate food supply while also protecting the environment, and we must do it together. We hope that this workshop will result in a guiding report on this subject.”

‘Presidency of Religious Affairs is the ultimate point in halal certificate'

Making a presentation on halal and clean food, Dr. Muhlis Akar, Counselor of the Presidency of Religious Affairs, said: “If we achieve halal and clean food, then we will completely fulfill the concept of organic agriculture. As a halal food commission member, we have contributions in all halal certifications. The ultimate point in halal certificate is the Presidency of Religious Affairs. The subject of food is very important religiously, particularly, halal and clean food. Consume halal and clean food as it is mentioned in the Qur'an. As the Presidency of Religious Affairs, we are very happy to take part in halal food commissions. One of the topics of the workshop is halal food, and the issue of clean food, which is an extension of halal food, and this is very important to guide our work. Thus, I would like to thank everyone who contributed to the workshop and hope that its outputs will be beneficial to our country.”

“We are working on the production, commercial certification and accreditation processes of halal products”

Zafer Soylu, Chairman of the Board of the Halal Accreditation Agency, gave a speech on “The Importance of Halal Accreditation and Halal Certification”.  Soylu said: “Muslims, constituting one-fourth of the world's population, prefer to eat halal and clean products. Halal food is the food that is allowed to be eaten and drunk according to Islam, and the products harvested from in the farm or the field must be prepared completely in accordance with Islamic rules until they come to our table. Our institution is working on the production, commercial certification and accreditation processes of Halal products and is improving its efforts continuously.

Support for Organic Agriculture Workshop from Indonesia

Participants from Indonesian Ministry of Agriculture and Bogor Agricultural University (IPB - Institute Pertenian Bogor) attended the workshop as observers. Bilateral meetings were held between the Indonesian Ministry of Agriculture and OMU in order to share experience and knowledge in the fields of agriculture and agricultural food production, organic agriculture, halal food in different geographical and climatic conditions, and to develop joint training studies.

Accordingly, Dr. Antarjo Dikin, Plant Protection and Analyst Specialist, Agnes Verawaty Silalahi, Crop Planning Coordinator, Norman Syahruddin, Agricultural Development Director, Dr. Ir Invite Fadjar, Rural Agricultural Zones Director and Inna Hanarti, Director of the Indonesian Coffee Farmers Company (JPLM), also participated to the workshop online.

In the speeches, the importance of international cooperation in the field of organic agriculture, food safety and halal food was emphasized. In addition, the participants stated that they would like to participate in Teknofest because of the interest in R&D and technological studies that Turkey has done in recent years.

'Turkey produces food not only for itself but also for the world'

Dr. Antario Dikin made a speech and said, “I would like to express my gratitude to Rector Unal. I would like to thank Turkey for producing food not only for itself but also for the whole world. Organic food is important because it is harmless to humans. No pesticides or synthetic fertilizers are used. Indonesia is thriving in organic food production. We can cooperate on this. I have seen arid lands in Turkey. Organic food production also helps us retain water. We provide students with project scholarships related to organic food production. Sending my respect and love.”

The workshop report will be published as a booklet

In the workshop, 3 working groups with participants from the General Directorate of Agricultural Research and Policies, Halal Accreditation Agency and Samsun Provincial Directorate of Agriculture and Forestry will make evaluations. The final declaration of the workshop will be published as a booklet and will be forwarded to the relevant persons, institutions and organizations.

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