Prof. Gökhan Özertan and Innovation in Agriculture

Innovation in agriculture will gain momentum with Boğaziçi University Innovative Agricultural and Food Management Platform

The Innovative Agricultural and Food Management Platform, established within the Application and Research Center for Innovation and Competition-Oriented Development Studies, was launched at the “Innovative Technologies in Agriculture and Food Value Chain Conference” held on Thursday, February 22nd, 2018 at Boğaziçi University. In the conference, relationship between technology and agriculture is discussed in a dynamic and innovative flow by academics, producers, funding sources, policy makers, input and technology providers, energy sector representatives, retail sector representatives, sectorial associations and non-governmental organizations. The conference emphasized that climate change is the greatest threat to agriculture in Turkey.

The event started with the opening speech of Rector of Boğaziçi University Prof. Dr. Mehmed Özkan. The conference hosted many speakers in addition to General Director of Agricultural Research and Policies Dr. Nevzat Birişik from Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock, Denizbank - Agricultural Banking Group Vice President Burak Koçak, Credit Bureau General Manager Kasım Akdeniz, Central Bank General Manager of Structural Economic Research Assoc. Prof. Semih Tümen.

In his speech, Rector Mehmed Özkan emphasized the importance of developing sufficient expertise and skills in these fields by stating that agriculture and food are sectors that require multidisciplinary studies. Mehmed Özkan stated that although there is no Faculty of Agriculture within the body of Boğaziçi University, it is possible to focus the knowledge and skills of different specialties to agriculture. He also indicated; as Boğaziçi University, they will work to improve the agricultural sector and to make it more efficient.

In 2080 Turkey will produce 15 percent less in agriculture

Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock, General Director of Agricultural Research and Policies, Dr. Nevzat Birişik made a comprehensive presentation on the current situation of agriculture and food sector in the world and in Turkey. Expressing that the agricultural economy constitutes 6.1 percent of the world economy, Birişik pointed out that approximately 4.5 billion tons of food is produced in the world today and one third of it is wasted. Stating that 52 of 119 countries are under the hunger limit, Birişik said that although natural resources of earth are rapidly decreasing, food demand is expected to increase by 60 percent with the increase of world population.

Nevzat Birişik said that while Turkey is the largest agricultural country in its geography, the country’s agricultural sector is not among the first 10 countries in the world. He expressed that the greatest risk faced by the agricultural sector in Turkey is climate change. Indicating that according to 2080 projections Turkey will produce at least 15 percent less than it can produce today, Birisik stated that it is required to apply value-added solutions in order to utilize the limited resources available, more efficiently and conciously.

Joint Action Approach for Innovative Agricultural Ecosystem

Professor of Economics at Boğaziçi University and co-founder of Boğaziçi University Innovative Agriculture Platform, Prof. Dr. Gökhan Özertan stated that the producer is at the center of the agricultural innovation practices in the world; around the producer, a large chain of many different components, from financial institutions to the end consumer, feeds and shapes the agricultural and food sectors.

Stating that in this multi-stakeholder environment, cooperation in competition is required as well as competition itself, Özertan stated, as the Innovative Agriculture Platform, they aimed to create an interactive innovation system that will be implemented for the first time in Turkey. Özertan emphasized the need for a common action approach in the innovative agricultural ecosystem and added that new business models and approaches is needed today as we speak of “destructive technologies”, different stakeholders can work together to produce solutions to the problems of agricultural and food sector.

In Turkey, an open innovation environment will be created for the first time

Boğaziçi University, Director of The Application and Research Center for Innovation and Competition Oriented Development Studies, Assoc. Prof. Aslı Deniz Helvacıoğlu emphasized that innovation aims to create a culture of life that all stakeholders take action rather than to create a final product. In this context, she added that they will establish an open innovation environment among the stakeholders for the first time in Turkey.

Professor of International Trade at Boğaziçi University, Prof. Dr. Arzu Tektaş stated that different specialties in different sectors act together by creating models of joint work, in all developed economies. She mentioned that this common movement approach and culture of cooperation are increasingly applied today. Tektaş gave information about the activities of Boğaziçi University in the context of this approach, within Innovative Agriculture and Food Management Platform. Prof. Tektaş mentioned that Innovative Agriculture and Food Management Platform aims to improve the innovation ability of Turkey's agricultural and food sector, to support technology integration and digital transformation of the agricultural sector, contributing to the knowledge to increase the competitiveness in national and global agricultural and food markets. Tektaş stated that they will organize certified training programs within the Platform, under the title “Innovative Agricultural Management” for managers and producers working in the agricultural sector.

Food prices will rise by 100 percent

In his speech, Assoc. Prof. Barış Karapınar, stated that the most important innovation in history is domestication of wheat and emphasized that this innovation has taken place in this geography. Stating that climate change is the most significant threat facing the agriculture in Turkey, Karapinar indicated that in a study conducted with 700 farmers, farmers said that they are directly affected by the climate change. Karapinar said; this danger also has an impact on food prices all over the world, sharing that as a result of the climate change, up to 100 percent of price increase in agricultural products is expected.

In the conference, relationship between technology and agriculture is discussed in a adynamic and innovative flow by academics, producers, funding sources, policy makers, input and technology providers, energy sector representatives, retail sector representatives, sectoral associations and non-governmental organizations. In the ”Innovative Technologies and Approaches in Agricultural Finance” panel, moderated by Prof. Dr. Gökhan Özertan, Denizbank Agricultural Banking Group Executive Vice President Burak Koçak, General Manager of Credit Registration Bureau Kasım Akdeniz and T.C. Central Bank, General Manager of Structural Economic Research Assoc. Prof. Semih Tümen shared information about the studies on financing in this field. Credit Registration Bureau General Manager Kasım Akdeniz said that there are around 4,600 different cost tables in the institutional database they have created and that a rich data content, not only in agricultural production but also in different categories such as animal husbandry, has accumulated. Akdeniz expressed that these data were collected separately from each province and categorized on a provincial and product basis, then, offered to the use of banks. Thanks to TARDES, all banks have become able to give loans for agriculture, he added.

Bogazici University Innovative Agriculture and Food Management Platform aims to encourage and develop common movement among the stakeholders showing activities associated with each other throughout the value chain in agricultural and food sectors of Turkey, such as; producers, producer associations, agricultural businesses, nongovernmental organizations, financial institutions, logistics companies, consulting companies, information and communication technology companies, universities, research institutions, local governments, public institutions and other institutions serving in the sector. The platform will work to encourage vertical and horizontal connections between these institutions, each of which specializes in their respective fields, to support the relationships between them and to facilitate the entry of new institutions into the sector. Aiming for higher productivity and market-oriented and value-added production, the Platform is of great importance not only for large scale enterprises but also for producer associations. The Platform, which will add value to consumer demand-oriented, ecological and sustainable production, which is becoming more and more important, aims to ensure the success of stakeholders, not only in the local but also in the global agricultural value chain where competition is intense.