For over than one hundred years, Turkey has been a source of flower bulbs to the international market. During the 1970s and 1980s, exports of bulbs based mainly on wild collection escalated. By 1986, over 70 million bulbs were exported annually, while many millions were simply thrown away because they were damaged or undersized. The rate of collection became unsustainable.
Through a type of technical assistance programme, the indigenous propagation project, which was initiated by Dogal Hayati Koruma Demegi (DHKD - the Society for the Protection of Nature) and Fauna and Flora International (FFI), Cambridge, United Kingdom, distributes plants materials free of charge to village families on the condition that they will grow them for a full three-year period, which will allow the small parent stocks to increase in size and number. After three years, the participants can sell the bulbs to exporters and continue to grow the plants. The measure is aimed at halting unsustainable collection of threatened wild flower bulbs and at developing a long-term economic alternative for those villagers who had been involved in wild collection.
A campaign was held in some of the consumer countries to raise public awareness about the threat possed by the wild collection of the bulbs and to dicsourage people from purchasing such bulbs.
The original plant material is provided free. From 1991 to 1997, the project was funded by World Wide Fund for Nature International (WWF). Since June 1997, it has been receiving funding from the United Kingdom Lottery.
The market reacted favourably to the objectives of the project. Accordingly, the villagers have obtained enhanced income with not much extra work. The exporters and the wholesalers in the Netherlands, the world’s
center of the flowerbulb trade, are able to sell propagated bulbs to markets that are increasingly demanding non-wild collected material. Finally, the numbers of bulbs being collected from the wild is declining.
Three factors that have contributed to the success of the project are identified. First, there is strong pressure from the consumers. They have campaigned for a decline in quotas permitting export of the wild-collected bulbs and threatened to ban all imports of Turkish bulbs in their countries. Second, there is a strong and well-established market demand for Turkish flower bulbs. With increased awareness, the consumers are willing to pay a higher price for properly cultivated bulbs. Lastly, all the stakeholders have benefited from the project.