Mari Kodua, 23, Darcheli

„I learnt to drive a tractor independently. Sometimes the tractor operator, who was a man, did not have time but things in the farm could not wait. I also wanted to do more easily agricultural works usually done manually by women. It takes 3 days and 4 people to hoe 1 hectare of land and add fertilizers to the soil, while by tractor you will cultivate several hectares in one day.

When I drove the tractor first in the village people thought I was doing that for fun. Later, when they saw that I was cultivating my own land, they were astonished. They were angry rather than astonished – why on earth should a woman drive a tractor?!

I was basically criticized by males, while females seemed more optimistic and encouraged me. This gave me a great incentive. I think there is no work better done by males than females. This is a wrong stereotype, which we should break and I will be happy to be involved in this process. I want women to be able to use agricultural machinery like men to reduce their manual work burden. I provide an example of how a woman can not only learn to drive a tractor but also develop technical skills to be able to make minor repairs independently whenever it breaks down.

Women can greatly contribute to the agricultural sector provided that the state supports and gives incentives to them. Currently our farm is operated by my sister and me. We harvest 20 tons of hazelnut, which we entirely export to Germany, Spain and Italy. I learned English and acquired computer skills myself. I deal with exporters independently. I would like to share the knowledge I have gained in the agricultural business with others. A lot of people call me and ask me for advice. I am happy that I can help them but this is just a drop in the bucket. By setting an example I would like to help women believe that they can be successful farmers and leaders in the agricultural sector. I would like to advise the state to offer more educational opportunities as well as programs on access to finances and agricultural machinery to all farmers, especially to women.“