Urfa’s Göbeklitepe represents a meeting moment of a woman’s hand and soil. It is the hero of tens thousands of years in history. Actually it did not change the future of mankind; in fact, it presented its future to the mankind. It is rumored that Garden of Eden is here. It is the place where Adam and Eve, who had to leave Paradise due to the forbidden fruit, clung back to life. The wise woman Eve planted the first wheat into soil. Soil and wheat which was the biggest gift offered to the soil in the Anatolia started from then on to be regarded as the main product of the soil and both the women and soil started to be considered the symbol of the fertility, abundance and richness. The secret of the wheat was whispered to the ear of the wise women by the Harut and Marut angels. In mythology, they are regarded as the imitations of the miracles.
Anatolia is a unique geography where stories blend with the waters of the rivers and they find their own paths and flows to tens thousands of years away. In Anatolia, seeds take hold in the soil, mankind takes hold in its own history and the relevant stories are delicately recorded to be passed down from generation to generation when the long-awaited day comes. A piece of bread is the story teller of nature. It tells the story of Anatolia to the life, mankind, and shares the talents of the hundreds of craftsmen at the universal dining tables.
You may ask why I am sharing all these stories with you. I guess most of you already heard about the term geographical indications. For a long period of time, countries like India and Holland have been registering all their values within the scope of the geographical indications of the geography they live in and searching for a real difference in the global village with no clear boundaries. They are also very successful in this regard. In the countries I have mentioned, thousands of geographically indicated products bring financial benefits to both the people living in that region and the producers producing the mentioned products, most importantly, the countries are now promoting their presentations with stronger and historical stories. A slice of bread is forgotten but a pinch of love story is never forgotten. Panettone, the story of love, becomes a guest of the dining tables with a month’s story. The love and loyalty story that the Italian Toni is leading creates hope and enthusiasm for all the dining tables. Its place in Italy’s gastronomic tourism becomes even stronger with these and similar stories. Just Italy? When covered within the scope of the geographically indicated products, the quality of the French cheeses and Swiss chocolates are put under protection and they are also passed down on from generation to generation and promote the culture of their countries of origin.
WHAT ARE GEOGRAPHICAL INDICATIONS?
After all these explanations, let us define what the geographical indications. Names and indications associated with a product distinctive of an area, location, region and country for its qualification, reputation and other characteristics are called “geographical indications”. The natural products which are identified with their distinguishing features and associated with their locations are the indications ascribed to agriculture, mining and handicrafts and industrial products.”
The geographical indications are a great chance for Turkey. Value-added products must be marketed and exported for the wheat exporters’ target of 2.5 billion dollars for the year 2023. Now, not only wheat but also the products with their own stories come to the forefront. Germany’s Pumpernickel bread is exported to all over the world and it provides income to both wheat merchants and the bread producers in question. While the Last Supper of the Jesus Christ and Apostles adorn the Church of Soest in Germany, travelers are willing to spend thousands of dollars to see this work and hear the story of bread. While the story of bread receives millions of acclaim in the social media, it becomes the subject matter of a great deal of articles and continues to create new tourist destinations for many people at different corners of the world.
Soil, seed, human, rain, nature and life change. Wind changes and the soil and seed are alive and they change too. That’s why it is not the seed rather it is the hard labor of mankind that reaches tomorrow. Stories are handed down to the next generations. A slice of bread represents the history, geography, literature and trace of the social life and the heritage and suggestion of the soil.
A SLICE OF BREAD IN MYTHOLOGY
The ten thousand years of Anatolia is retold through a slice of bread in mythology. The abduction of beautiful Persephone represented the poverty and drought of the Anatolia. With the abduction by Hades of Persephone, it became impossible to produce any wheat. With her disappearance, poverty became widespread all over the world and people could not raise any wheat yield. Hades made Persephone who was the most beautiful girl in the world and the goddess of fertility eat pomegranate. Eating the pomegranate, the symbol of love, Persephone fell in love with Hades and did not want to return to the world. Her mother Demeter left the Olympus and searched all over the world and made vows. Finally, Zeus met Hades and ensured that Persephone would spend the harvest time in the world and the remaining time underground. From that day on, fertility and prosperity have returned to the soils of the Anatolia.
Geographical indications have many uses. One of the most important of these is to present childhood to a human being. A slice of bread is a child’s childhood, imagination, hope and neighborhood. A slice is a specific location and a tradition. Whenever you see that slice, you can distinguish it. That odor is felt even from a distance, it is different, and it is like relatives coming from far away. Whenever you go, it is just like meeting an acquaintance. Moving your tradition to the future is a gift to your local world.
Agricultural production is not just an economic activity. Maintaining the sustainable development of communities, protecting natural resources and moving them to the future are the two main components of this. And societies feed themselves with hope for the future. The future demands a great enthusiasm and ideals that feeds on and strengthened with the past. For the sake of a common goal, culture is the most important force that triggers hope and motivates. To be one, to be united is indispensable for today and for future societies.
This is why it is very important to maintain local products, tastes, local production conditions, local production methods, local resources, and local traditions and protect them. All these values and cultural elements are the basic building blocks and motivation tools that hold society together. In this sense, it is possible to protect the locality, to support it, to move it to the future, to locally obtain commercial gain, and to move the locals to the future by protecting and registering all these values.
WORKING AREAS OF GEOGRAPHICAL INDICATIONS
Geographical indications are the field where the cultures can feel good in the global world. The wars are no longer made with guns and rifles but with culture. The protection of cultures also means that local people are supported by a sustainable life. The most important work area of geographical indications is tourism.
Geographical indications are a structure that protects people, culture, and tradition and carries them to future. They ensure the traditional knowledge is not constrained with limitations and brought into the future. In this sense, geographical indications are an important opportunity for Turkish agriculture, Turkish farmers and local development.
Geographical indications are an opportunity for both rural development and for the economization of traditional wheat varieties. At the same time, a new breath can be brought to the traditional bakery with the products to be made from these varieties. Anatolia is the gene center of hundreds of wheat varieties. Harvard University is conducting researches in Diyarbakir in this sense. Gacer wheat, kavlıca wheat, siyes wheat and many other wheat varieties with little production in the villages can be economized and their culture can be carried to the future. The wheat varieties are originally included in the geographical indication.
BENEFITS OF THE GEOGRAPHICAL INDICATIONS
Not only wheat varieties, but also many types of traditional breads belong to our scientific provinces may be included as geographical indications. The countries such as India and Holland where the geographical indications studies are most intensified have come a long way in this regard. The wheat and bread wealth of Anatolia’s will provide many benefits to our country under the geographical indications. With the yield of wheat, the farmers and local development are supported and with the production of bread, bakeries are supported. These are only part of the benefits of geographical indications. The transfer of the tradition to the future and the sharing of our culture with the whole world are other important benefits. Geographical indications, a very important study in terms of tourism, will also be supported in this sense by opening up traditional Turkish cultural products to the world tourism.
We must not think of siyez wheat or Trabzon bread as just wheat or bread; they must be conceived as a piece of cultural product at the same time and new tourist destinations related to the region must be created. Then I will write another article about this topic. For now, you must only know that geographical indications are truly linked to tourism.
Geographical indications are also important for the consumer. Research shows that while consumers prefer to buy geographically indicated products, they are willing to pay 25 percent more for the geographically indicated products.
Another benefit of geographical indication is that the quality standard of the product is preserved. Other benefits include protecting the ecological balance and encouraging the consumer to increase the number of products that support healthy eating preferences. In this sense, the topic of organic products is unfortunately an area open to abuse in our country, and the correct promotion strategy is very important for the geographically indicated products not to face the same misfortune. Especially, supporting consumers who wish to consume healthy, local and seasonal food is a significant social responsibility of the state. This is one of the important advantages offered to the people by the present day modern states. Geographically indicated products must be evaluated within the scope of “Correct Food” and this criterion must be taken into account in all studies.
To me, one of the most important works on the subject of geographically indicated products is that it is very important to carry out innovative work on the mentioned products and to market the products firstly for the domestic market and then for the world market as a solid commercial product. In this sense, the state must provide consultancy for the firms as regards the management, product development and marketing and establish related committees linked to the development agencies. Geographical indications must be assessed within the “National Agriculture Policy” and work must be carried out together with the Ministry of Tourism in order to promote our country.
CONCEPT OF GEOGRAPHICAL INDICATIONS IN OUR COUNTRY
Briefly speaking of the benefits of geographical indications, I would like to mention a little more about this issue in our country. At present, 200 products have been registered under the geographical indications. Geographical indications are now considered more of as an archival work and used as a means of competition between provinces or countries. However, the commercial and cultural dimension of the matter is much more important. In this sense, an effective strategy must be set up and a business plan must be prepared by taking into consideration a dimension that will revitalize local development and tourism.
Geographically indicated products are not yet available on the market shelves due to the fact that this issue is not adequately known by consumers in our country although the difference in price compared to other products is supportive of the local producers. Apart from the consumers, the retailers do not have much knowledge on this subject. In this sense, a nationwide awareness effort must be urgently planned. We need to create the “geographically indicated product” perception without creating a false perception like the “domestic goods”.
We can define the geographically indicated products:
works as an effort to support the local development, take the traditional to the future, revive the tourism under the scope of the geographically indicated products, support the conscious and healthy nutrition, and most importantly, ensure the wheat and bakery products exporters take a position above competition.
If we go even further, food purchasing is the most important habit of our changing purchasing habits. Now, individuals prefer products that appeal to more senses and have their own stories. In this sense, geographically indicated products are culture-based and contain tradition, story, and enthusiasm. In this respect, they appeal to 5 senses and support the transfer of the culture to the future. From now on, we must take Anatolian culture to the future with a right strategy and introduce all these values to the world. Wheat and flour traders must market not the flour but their own stories.