Fellow Since 2005
This profile was prepared when Nazmi Ilicali was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2005.
The New Idea
To keep farmers producing for Turkish and now European consumers and stave off the rapid migration of rural Turks to already overcrowded cities like Istanbul, Nazmi is building a network of organic cooperatives that take advantage of economies of scale. Through the cooperatives, he is arranging financing to support small-scale farms, and helping farmers work through inventive product diversification that will secure new markets and aid long-term sustainability. He is also building a consumer base for organic products and building reliable accreditation systems for farm and product certification. While economic gain is the main goal of the network, another important outcome is envisaged: farmers in rural areas are learning to cooperate, share information that strengthens the network, and mobilize in support of their industry. This village-level participation model yields gains in health, education, among others, and imbues farmers with a new sense of the importance of their work in feeding Turkey and contributing to national economic growth.