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Organic-Fair Farming Turkey Project Impressions & Reports

Decade-long partnership

Interview with the Börekçigil family, sultana farmers in Tekelioğlu
The Börekçigil peasant family has been supplying Rapunzel with organic sultanas for 30 years. In Tekelioğlu, in the Salihli region, they are among the earliest members of the Rapunzel village project. The married couple Muttalip and Fatma Börekçigil and their son Ömer, who took over the farm from his father, who has passed away in the meantime, talk about why they converted to organic agriculture, how they experience the cooperation with Rapunzel and why they are still convinced of their lifetime achievement. The interview shows how alive and future-oriented the Rapunzel Turkey project is today.

How did you first come into contact with Rapunzel?


Muttalip: We got to know Rapunzel in 1990, when a representative from the company came to our village to buy sesame. When he offered a price for the sesame that was higher than the market price, I thought at first that this was a fraud and I did not participate in their organic program in the first year. At the time, there were many swindlers around who took the farmers' crops and didn’t pay for them.

But Rapunzel paid the agreed price on time. I did some research then and learned that Rapunzel was a reliable company. Therefore, I started to work with Rapunzel in 1991.

Rapunzel provided us with information on organic farming. Our village was very suitable for organic farming given its location and the neighbouring lake. But at the time everyone around us used a lot of artificial fertilisers and chemical pesticides. Thanks to the information Rapunzel provided, we learned how to grow our crops organically without using chemicals and we still continue to do organic farming without compromise.

What makes you particularly proud in the cooperation with Rapunzel?


Muttalip: We are very happy that the customers appreciate the crops we grow in harmony with healthy and organic farming practices and that we contribute with our organic agriculture to a healthy nutrition for our children. Therefore, we are proud of Rapunzel for providing us this opportunity.

Fatma: I would sincerely like to thank Rapunzel for introducing organic farming to Turkey and for introducing us to organic agriculture. I see myself as a lucky mother for having the opportunity to provide organic foods to my children and grandchildren.

Ömer: As they were the first who brought organic farming to Turkey, we could learn a lot from Rapunzel. Thanks to Rapunzel we continue to learn about gentle organic farming practices across the world including newly developed technologies and we continue to expand our horizons. We are also motivated by the - deserved - pride of being ahead of other farmers in Turkey in this respect.

Why do you cooperate with Rapunzel?


Muttalip: We get paid on time. We are entitled to an interest-free advance payment whenever we need it. When I hear of bankrupt dealers and farmers around us who don’t get paid for their crops, I feel very lucky to work with a company like Rapunzel.

Ömer: What is important to me is that we permanently exchange information with the Rapunzel agricultural engineers. Together, we are searching for solutions how organic farming methods can be further improved, we discuss how we can control plant diseases and pests most effectively or how can we prevent the loss of produce and so on.

Rapunzel consultants visit our vineyards 1-2 times per year during the growing season. They support us in controlling the traps we put in our gardens as an early warning system against pests. They help us to find the best organic agents and remedies against disease and pests. In addition, Rapunzel also offers us interest-free advance support during the season and transfers our payments punctually.

Muttalip: I think, in the long-term, Rapunzel contributed a lot to the development of our village. It’s obvious that a timely purchase of our crops and regular payments have increased the welfare in the region.

Rapunzel's agricultural engineers support the peasant families from the Turkey project throughout the year
Rapunzel's agricultural engineers support the peasant families from the Turkey project throughout the year
Rapunzel's agricultural engineers support the peasant families from the Turkey project throughout the year

What does the future look like?


Muttalip: Continuity is very important in organic farming. We have been farming organically since 1991 - without interruption! In the last 2 years, my son started to take over the farm work. He will continue the project when I retire. I hope that my grandchildren will later continue with organic farming.

Ömer: I am very happy to continue to farm our fields organically. Before I started to take over from my father, I studied agricultural engineering at the Bursa Uludağ University. This gave me the opportunity to develop my skills in the technical field.

I definitely will not abandon this organic farming legacy that I got from my father. Although organic agriculture has its challenges, it also has more advantages. Therefore, I will continue with organic farming until I am old.

And there is another thing. Rapunzel does not only buy our main crop, but they also support us when we want to grow new crops and they help us expand the variety in our product range, for example with tomatoes and peppers. Rapunzel also buys these new crops from us. As a farmer, what else can I expect from a company?  Therefore, I definitely would never consider to end the cooperation with Rapunzel.

I wish that one day, I can pass on this legacy that I got from Rapunzel to my own son. God willing, I hope my son will also continue working with Rapunzel when my time is over.

Muttalip, do you have a special memory from your long cooperation with Rapunzel?


Muttalip: Years ago, Rapunzel brought a female French journalist into our village for interviews. She did not know any Turkish, and we didn’t understand neither French nor English. During the photo shooting the journalist suddenly started to cry. We had no idea why because we couldn’t talk with her! So, we called the Rapunzel consultant. He came over, talked with the journalist and explained us what had happened. It turned out that the lady was very touched by the natural beauty of our region and started to cry since she was worried this beauty could be destroyed in the future.

Finally, as someone who has farmed organically for 30 years, I recommend to everyone around me to switch over to organic agriculture and eat only organic foods.

Ömer: I hope that organic agriculture in our country will develop and I recommend all farmers to get into organic farming.


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