This profile was prepared when Yasemin Kilic was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2001.
The New Idea
Yasemin is teaching small-scale, organic-produce farmers the techniques they need to allow them to continue earning a living and to resist agribusiness, which is claiming more and more of Turkey's production each year. To demonstrate that organic production is viable, she has carefully chosen a high-yield crop that accounts for a large part of Turkey's agricultural production: the apple. Turkey is the fourth largest producer of apples in the world, and 9 out of 10 people in the region in which she works tend orchards for a living. Thus, by gathering and building on the knowledge currently in use, and spreading it to farmers throughout the apple-producing region of Turkey, Yasemin is organizing farmers in a way that can drive local and regional productionnot just with apple production but with lesser crops as well. She shows that organic farming can produce high yields and cut production costs over the long run by reducing fertilizer and pesticides expenses and allowing soil to remain fertile and productive for many years. As environmental issues worsen and migration escalates, product alternatives and sustainable farming techniques are desperately needed. Yasemin is helping people other than farmers see this as well: she is engaging mayors, university professors, and the public.