Keywords: cotton, farmer perceptions, farm practices, soil salinity, South-eastern Anatolia Project, survey, Turkey, Turkish agriculture, excessive irrigation, cotton production, education, training, collective action, farmer initiatives, empowerment, sustainability, sustainable development
Perceptions and practices of farmers towards the salinity problem: the case of Harran Plain, Turkey
The Harran region, located in the South-eastern part of Turkey, is facing an increasing salinity problem due to excessive and inefficient irrigation practices. In this paper, we survey 619 cotton producers in the region and analyse their perceptions and practices towards soil salinity. The survey results indicate that formal education and training are the central factors that determine the farmers' awareness of the relationship between excessive irrigation and salinity. The recognition of the negative externalities resulting from the unsustainable use of irrigation by neighbouring farms positively affects farmers' willingness to participate in collective action to deal with the salinity problem. Yet, the current institutional setting in the Harran region discourages collective action and farmer initiatives. Policymakers need to support the empowerment of the local farmers through better and locally-relevant education and training and provide adequate incentives for farmers to adopt more sustainable practices and technologies.