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Plant Biodiversity is one of the research areas of General Directorate of Agricultural Research and Policies (TAGEM)

Turkey is one of the most attractive countries in means of plant biodiversity and as a gene pool for crop wild relatives. It has three major floristic regions and has quite different habitats due to its climatic, topographic and geomorphologic characteristics. There are more than 12,000 taxa of vascular plants and about one third of them are endemic to Turkey. Some of the world's main crops were first cultivated in Anatolia and many of their wild relatives still grows here.

General Directorate of Agricultural Research and Policies is responsible for the use of biodiversity in breeding programs as well as collection, characterization, conservation and sustainable utilization of plant genetic resources in Turkey. TAGEM supports over 70 projects for these purposes currently. By BEWS2017, TAGEM desires to build a new perspective for using biodiversity efficiently in breeding programs and aims to bring plant breeders, plant scientists and plant researchers together for sharing advances and establish new collaborations.

The mainstreaming biodiversity conservation and sustainable use for improved human nutrition and wellbeing project

Better known as the Biodiversity for Food and Nutrition (BFN) Project, this initiative was launched in April 2012 to address growing concerns over the rapid loss of agricultural biodiversity, mainly traditional crops and wild species with nutritional potential. Led by Brazil, Kenya, Sri Lanka and Turkey, the BFN project is enhancing global knowledge of biodiversity for food and nutrition by providing nutrition information on over 150 food species that are you currently underutilized or are disappearing from local diets. By so doing, the countries aim to influence decision-makers to conserve and promote the sustainable use of biodiversity for food and nutrition in the global and national food-based approaches that tackle food and nutrition security. The project is also raising awareness of the species and promoting them are nutritional benefits to users as part of healthier diets.

Biodiversity for Food and Nutrition in Turkey

The traditional use and harvesting of wild edible plants and mushrooms in Turkey has contributed to their continued use in Turkish cuisine. They are eaten raw, cooked, dried and processed depending on the region where they grow. Particularly in rural areas, wild edible foods are collected and used for home consumption or sold in local markets thus complementing people's diets and representing an additional income for many households.

Although the tradition of collecting wild edibles is still widespread among older generations, their use is gradually dying out as young people migrate to urban areas and food collection from the wild is no longer possible or convenient. This shift in food habits is detrimental for both dietary and cultural diversity, and is a missed economic opportunity for many families. Ever-increasing urbanization, habitat loss and overexploitation are also threatening the growing grounds of many of these species, resulting in their disappearance. 

With Turkey's natural and cultural biodiversity facing multiple threats, the conservation and domestication of wild edible species is vital to promote and sustain the continued consumption of these highly nutritious forager foods.

The BFN project in Turkey is studying the prevalence of, consumption and traditional use of 43 wild edible species in three pilot sites in the Mediterranean, Aegean and Black Sea regions, which are rich in edible wild plants. For more information visit the BFN Project website for Turkey.

In the Mediterranean region, where the meeting is being held, the high mountain steppes of the Taurus Mountains meet those of Central Anatolia providing an ideal habitat for both the Irano-Turanian and Mediterranean flora, in which endemic medicinal and aromatic species (MAPS) abound and are sold to meet the growing demand for domestic and overseas traditional medicine markets.