Guided by the criteria of circular agriculture, Izmir Agriculture is a basin-oriented agricultural model planned through scientific and holistic approaches. Its fundamental difference from conventional agriculture lies in its focus on natural resource utilization and significant water savings in irrigation, thereby combating drought.
Izmir Agriculture program is not restricted to crop farming but encompasses the entire production process from field to end consumer, contributing to poverty alleviation.
In Turkey, 77 percent of freshwater resources, approximately 3 out of 4, are used for agricultural irrigation. The reason behind such a high irrigation rate, reaching levels of wastefulness, in agriculture is attributed to the role of product choices made without considering climatic and geographical conditions.
The fundamental aim of Izmir Agriculture is its emphasis on cultivating agricultural products that rely on rainfall or efficient irrigation methods. As a result, the goal is to achieve at least a 50 percent reduction in the water used for agricultural irrigation. Most of this 50 percent reduction will be achieved by appropriately cultivating the right agrarian products in suitable locations.
Izmir Agriculture is a project to reintroduce the fundamental principles of farming that have been neglected for decades. In this model, agriculture is approached with the perspective of design science. The climate, temperature, soil, and water structure, precipitation periods, and patterns determine which agricultural products are suitable for cultivation.
In this context, the focus is on selecting basin-specific strategic products that use minimal water resources. The primary outcomes in this category are small livestock meat and dairy products, grains, and heritage forage crops. Following are olive oil and, finally, grape products. Within the scope of Izmir Agriculture, in addition to these strategic products, other products such as chestnuts, aquatic products, and aromatic plants in the sub-basins is also being supported. These products, benefiting Izmir and other cities and potentially the international markets through cost-effective exports, share common traits: they thrive with rainfall, require minimal irrigation, and have the potential for large-scale production in extensive areas.
IZPA is developing ten-year crop planning that meet the criteria for priority agricultural basins of Izmir Province. Circular Agriculture Criteria (listed below) are used to define the most appropriate products at sub-basins.
The Rural Basins of Izmir Program also embraces agro-tourism facilities complementing crop production. Under this program, rural planning principles, design and implementation guides are being developed that take into account the different needs and potentials in the countryside. Thus, a rural economy based on the protection of nature and cultural heritage is being established in the rural areas of Izmir. The most significant outcome of this approach will be the establishment of standards for naturalness and quality in the products.
Circular Agriculture Criteria
The blending of crop production and animal husbandry with the correct principles and experiences from the past carried out correctly, ensures that future generations have continuous access to sufficient, high-quality, and reliable food products. Simultaneously, it allows those engaged in these activities to establish a sustainable source of income. Furthermore, these practices enable positive effects on the environment and natural resources. Circular Agriculture System is developed within the framework of eight main criteria:
- The cultivated products are compatible with the microclimate of the region where they are grown.
- They shall have low water and electricity consumption and a low carbon footprint.
- External agricultural inputs that require high water and electricity usage and not compatible with geographical conditions of the region and agricultural inputs that cause high carbon emissions are not utilized.
- Production is not carried out through large-scale disruption of natural conditions.
- Intensive interventions that decrease biological diversity in production are avoided.
- Production is conducted in harmony with the natural character of the basin and geography where it is situated.
- The produced items are processed in a way that does not harm producers, consumers, and the biological diversity of that region.
- The production methods include region-specific land cultivation practices as much as possible.