Organic cotton production and improvement of fiber quality in new irrigated area with Eastern Anatolia Project (GAP) for the sustainable development

Place: turkey, Europe
Sustainable development of small rural communities Sustainable development of small rural communities
Total Budget: € 25.000,00 | Period: From May 2012 To November 2013


GAP Regional Development Administration has initiated the Gap Organic Agriculture Cluster Project in order to ensure competitiveness in the region. In GAP region, our project aims to shape the demand for organic products, to create the organic agriculture infrastructure, to define such products that could be fit to be produced organically, to aid government oriented research institutions to determine the support that which institutions can actually provide. The project also aims to create new regional employment opportunities by encouraging the productivity of the land and correct water usage.


Harran University Akcakale Tecnical Sciences Vocational School - Turkey

Lead applicant

Formation, Education, research, organic agriculture , divulgation, sustaniable rural devolopment

Ecological Agricultural Development and Social Solidarity Association - Turkey

Initiative partner

Directorate of Provincial Food Agriculture and Livestock Şanlıurfa - Turkey

Initiative partner

Republic Of Turkey Ministry Of Development Southeastern Anatolia Project Regional Development Administration - Turkey

Initiative partner

The Southeastern Anatolia Project (GAP) is a multi-sector and integrated regional development effort approached in the context of sustainable development. Its basic objectives include the improvement of living standards and income levels of people so as to eliminate regional development disparities and contributing to such national goals as social stability and economic growth by enhancing productivity and employment opportunities in the rural sector. The project area covers 9 administrative provinces (Adiyaman, Batman, Diyarbakir, Gaziantep, Kilis, Mardin, Siirt, Sanliurfa and Sirnak) in the basins of the Euphrates and Tigris and in Upper Mesopotamia. The project rests upon the philosophy sustainable human development, which aims to create an environment in which future generations can benefit and develop. The basic strategies of the project include fairness in development, participation, environmental protection, employment generation, spatial planning and infrastructure development

SANKO Textile Industries Holding - Turkey

Initiative partner

Production of Textile

In the AREA where 40% of Total Cotton is Produced, it's crucial to have environmental friendly production methods. Increase in Organic Cotton lands and development of an eco-textile industry is a great opportunity to contribute local economy of the Area and Conservation of environment. Final product of Organic Cotton is also healthy, non-toxic alternative for babies and people with sensitive skin.

60% cotton production of Turkey is cultivated In GAP region. As irrigation has become more feasible because of the GAP project, presently, agriculture in Gap region may represent an economically important sector. However, agricultural practices in this region are not sustainable for environment and people because of conventional practices. Organic agriculture has become a very important alternative in this area to correct all these non-sustainable practices. The main innovation proposed by this best practise is to promote an eco-sustainable initiative by changing conventional methods (using  large amounts of chemicals in their practices) into organic cotton cultivation. Such a cultivation system has become an example for the farmers of this area. It made them more sensitive to the environment issues and human health Increased organic cotton production also allowed the start up of new textile industries which produce organic textiles. 

In recent years,  organic cotton has become an important income for farmers and an essential raw material in textile industry that consists 35% of Turkish exports. Cotton requirement of textile industry is about 1.6 million tons while cotton production is about 1 million tons in Turkey. 60% of cotton production are produced in the GAP (Southeastern Anatolia Project) region and the Harran which has the most favorable ecological conditions for cotton. Recently, environmental issues are increasingly being debated because of the experienced health problems worldwide. Organic farming may be one of the means to address this problem as it represents an important alternative to conventional chemical agriculture. Eco-textiles which respond to the increasing demand for an environmentally safe production are being produced with organic cotton. The aim of this project is to promote both organic cotton production and manufacture in the GAP region.

Ataturk Dam Ataturk Dam that was built during GAP Project
Balikligol Ayn-Zeliha Pond in Sanliurfa
Harran Grand Mosque Ruins of Ancient Grand Mosque in Harran
Harran Houses Houses of Harran Village
Urfa Fortress Ruins of Sanliurfa Fortress
../file-system/small/pdf ../file-system/small/pdf Touristic Information Touristic information sheet about Urfa and places nearby

Organic cotton production is essential for the region due to suitable conditions for organic production and marketing potential. Since the cotton is a very important crop for marketing of organic products in Turkey, organic cotton production is among the alternatives for the region. With this method minimized pollution of natural resources and the effective use of resources are aimed. Numbers of textile factories are increasing as production increases in the region, this keeps the local economy alive. Implementation of organic practices also protects soils from excessive use of fertilizers and pesticides. Transformation of already available natural sources and favorable ecological conditions to production is also a great opportunity for the regional development. Our study showed that organic cotton production  has a great potential in our region. Results also indicated that fiber quality of organic cotton was as desirable as conventional for textile industry. 



Cotton trial Experimental design of cotton trial
From Plant to Cotton From green cotton leaves to the white cotton 1
From Plant to Cotton 2 From green plant to white cotton
Organic Cotton Trial Picture from our trial that we have conducted in Harran
Organic Cotton Trial Experimental field where we planted organic cotton
Organic cotton plant First flowers of cotton trials.

Real beneficiaries of this organic cotton project are farmers, consumers, environment, textile industries and unemployment peoples. Farmers had beneficiaries because of not using chemical pesticides, they had cultivated without any chemical residues, this cultivation system had positive effects on  environments,  this cotton are used for babies and people with sensitive skin.  Organic cotton is alternative product for the region so it made new cotton industries set up in the area, so new jobs opportunity for local young generations. GAP region has immigrations problems. They are moving to big cities of Turkey to search jops. Only 10 % of turkish population is living in this regions. By means of  cotton textile industries to process organic cotton in situ,  created new job opportunities for local population. 

With students Students from our school were among the beneficiaries of this project. They have seen and practiced production of organic cotton.

Project was carried out by University of Harran, Agriculture faculty.

1. GAP Regional Development Administration Organic Agriculture Cluster Development Unit: for irrigations menagments. Murat CANDEMİR
2. Şanlıurfa Provincial Directorate of the Food, Agriculture and Livestock Organic Agriculture Unit: for certification in organic agriculture. Mehmet TANRIVERDİ
3. Şanlıurfa Association for Organic Agriculture (EKODER): help to present project to local community. Medet ABBASOĞLU
4. SANKO İplik A.Ş. Gaziantep: ginning, packing, promoting and marketing of the organic cottons to the textile sector .Nezih NAKIPOĞLU
5. Organic cotton farmers: involved the project by participation to the field trips, sharing their experiences and expressing the problems. Nuri AĞAR, Salih SOLHAN
6. Local communities and villages of Akçakale ve Harran districts provided the needed tractors, agricultural tools and equipments. Pekmezli village farmers

During the work several obstacles have been faced. These are mainly lack of proper funding and transportation difficulties. As well as, warm climatic conditions at field obstructed the work. Promotion and marketing of the products were other obstacles. We solved marketing problems thanks to efforts of SANKO staffs.  Aforementioned all the obstacles were partially overcomed by the stakeholders and the contributors of the project. 

Cotton ball after the obstacles Cotton ball after the obstacles were overcame
Flower after the obstacles Even with the all obstacles we managed to have this beautiful flower.

The work has direct and indirect impacts on environment, energy consumption, and genetic diversity through sustainable agriculture, healthy food chains, controlled and safe movements of foods from farm to fork. Cotton is one of the crops that the most of chemical products are used for agricultural production. From this point of view, we have decided to produce cotton organically for this project.  As conclusions, cotton can be produced without using any chemical input therefore environment will be polluted at minimum level. Hence, natural resources will be protected and left for new generations. Use of Genetically Modified Organisms is prohibited in organic agriculture. The most important contribution of this rule is protection of the existing genetic diversity. Finally, energy savings were ensured due to no use of chemical fertilizers or pesticides. 

Certainly this study served as a model for other studies. Diyarbakır Provincial Directorates of the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock together with the University of Dicle were taken our work as an example and implemented a pilot project entitled “Applicability of organic cotton production in Diyarbakır province”. Furthermore, the study served as an example for my PhD study. I determined the PhD project title as “Effects of organic and microbial fertilizer applications on fiber quality and the agricultural quality aspects of the variaties of cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) in the organic conditions of Harran lowland”. 

Students Students are the future for the region, picture with our students during a field trip.
With Students A picture with our students from academy during a field trip to region

A series of works has been done in order to disseminate the results of the study. Şanlıurfa Provincial Directorate of the Food, Agriculture and Livestock Organic Agriculture Unit contributed at the field by transferring technical knowledge on organic agriculture to local farmers. As a member of GAP (Southeastern Anatolia Project) Organic Agriculture Cluster Develeopment Project i presented the results of the project to the members of the cluster. We also participated to BioFach fair in 2013 and it was an opportunity to share results with people. Furthermore, we participated to the 1st Eastern Black Sea Organic Agriculture Congress in 2013 at Aydin Dogan Vocational School in the university of Gumushane to present our work. Several publication have been also made related to our work. 

National Congress Participation to National Organic Congress
National Congress Picture 2013 National Organic Congress Participation
../file-system/small/pdf ../file-system/small/pdf Publication Paper Submitted to National Congress
../file-system/small/pdf ../file-system/small/pdf Publication Abstract for Poster in National Congress at Hatay
../file-system/small/pdf ../file-system/small/pdf Publication Abstract Submitted to National Congress in Antalya