Greenhouses for Autonomy in Van, North Kurdistan

This was translated from a German translation of a report by Dicle Haber from May 2016. The German translation was published on AK zur Kurdischen Revolution. We are unable to find the original Dicle Haber report.

In the village Norkox (Yolaşan) near Payîzava (Gürpınar) in the eastern Turkish province Van [Wan], Metin Demir and Nadir Abdullah started an agrarian initiative for the local population. Usually, the locals travelled every year to western Turkey for seasonal work, but now there is a local alternative: collective greenhouses have been opened. Vegetables, cucumbers, aubergine and tomatoes are cultivated there and the harvest is shared with the people.

Metin Demir recounts: “We put up the greenhouses autonomously and we work there with our wives and children. There are no salaries. On weekends, our friends come to help. Our goal is to become self-sufficient, and maybe even to export local produce. We want to lay an economic foundation to our aspirations for autonomy, and we want to develop rural production. In the two months our greenhouses have been running, we have already harvested three times. When we started with this we did not received support from anyone. But later, the municipality of Gürpınar provided technical help.”

The produce is entirely organic, without any artificial additives. “We plan to grow plants and make seeds in the local greenhouses, and we call on our compatriots to participate in this. Anyone who wants to see what we are doing is invited to come – we will explain everything!”

Kadir Akbulut, co-founder of the collective greenhouse, believes there is great agricultural potential in the area: “Land, water and people – everything is there. Unfortunately, the young generation emigrates to the west a lot. They live in lamentable conditions in big cities like Istanbul and Izmir. Those who stay became dependent on seasonal work in other regions. But actually, our own land is enough for everyone; they should not leave. If we can join forces, we can open cooperatives. Like this we can prevent emigration and harvest the fruits of our efforts ourselves.”

Additionally to the six greenhouses where seedlings of bell peppers, climbing cucumbers, aubergine and tomato are being cultivated, there are 66 hectares of open land where nuts, melons, watermelons and strawberries are growing.