One of various emerging aspects of the "new normal" involves the digital transformation of most businesses. Of course, digitalization has been at the forefront of most companies' minds for years now in terms of preparing for the future. Technological investments, which allow for the infrastructure needed to reduce costs and provide better services for customers in all sectors from agriculture, textiles, education, health and more, are now a customer expectation. In light of the pandemic, the online sale of many products went through the roof. Evidently, it looks as though online shopping will see a rise in the foreseeable future.
The internet is undoubtedly not just the domain of shopping, playing a very important role in accessing information, observing and classifying consumer behavior and determining the direction of innovative studies. The internet has eliminated much of what remained of Main Street, with textile brands now clocking up zero store sales. You can access anything you want on platforms such as Amazon and Ali Baba. A new generation of entrepreneurs can sell a toy they have produced in China to customers in Istanbul via Amazon. The benefits of the internet, which removes distance and takes out the middle man, are countless.
While textiles, jewelry and accessories were at the forefront in pre-epidemic internet sales, healthy, organic and natural foods are now on top. Internet sales are very high when it comes to organic goods. Well-regarded agricultural producers, especially those who reach out to consumers via social media, support fair sharing of food by eliminating intermediaries. The descriptions and pledges inscribed on the packaging of natural food products tend to show similarities, with the keywords most used by brands on social media including "old-fashion cuisine," "heirloom," "first-hand food," "healthy" and "environmentally friendly."
With this in mind, governments have continued to set the basis for the relationship between the producer and the consumer. The introduction of the Digital Agriculture Market, setting forth the latest aims of the Agriculture and Forestry Ministry, garnered widespread interest. Before examining the details of the Digital Agriculture Market, however, it is worth reviewing the latest projects run by the Agriculture Ministry. The Agriculture Council has continued to make a name for itself with various projects, most notably the Local Seed Project and Breathe into the Future.
By taking on the expertise of various important figures from the private sector at some of the ministry's most important offices, such as Tigem, the authority has been able to keep its pulse on the market, fostering a faster pace of cooperation with the private sector. Tigem General Manager and Chairman of the Board, Ayşe Ayşin Işıkgece, is one such important figure. Işıkgece, who has made businesses profitable in just a short period of two years, provides one of the best examples of the success of the vaccination model linking the public and private sectors. The Digital Agriculture Market offers an important study of public-private cooperation.
It is possible to consider the Digital Agriculture Market as an indicator of the ministry's goals. While various measures have been taken regarding the future of agriculture and food, many projects have been implemented in order to maintain a strong presence in the future thanks to a new generation of applications.
A new system has been introduced on product applications in the sector, all covered under the umbrella of the Digital Market in Agriculture and the Contracted Agriculture Portal. As an effective system that has evolved by blending agriculture with technology, the system marks a positive step – especially for the protection of the labor of smaller producers. While the producer is protected, the consumer can also be guaranteed a good price on healthy, local products at the point of demand. Although rather new, the system has been immediately adopted in the private sector, with its use by producers and consumers gaining a remarkable degree of traction.
Right price, right production
The Digital Agriculture Market can be considered the basis for what can be perceived as a meeting point for the producer and the consumer, aiming to get the right price on goods and cutting out the need for intermediaries. The project was launched by Agriculture and Forestry Minister Bekir Pakdemirli as part of an event attended by Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak, Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan and Rıfat Hisarcıklıoğlu and the president of the Turkish Union of Chambers and Exchange Commodities. Many agricultural workers were also present at the launch. The system received full marks from markets, purchasers, farmers and stakeholders.
Since new measures were taken on agriculture and food by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, the Digital Agriculture Market has played an important role in ensuring a sustainable future. Former intermediaries, widely criticized for the unfair distribution of food, have been eliminated thanks to the system. It offers a fair marketing opportunity by bringing small producers together in the same environment with large producers. It provides price fairness and prevents monopolization.
But for now, let's go back to the project launch – which was as digital as the project itself, having been made possible only thanks to Zoom, with farmers and consumers from all over Anatolia in attendance. Reporters, retail executives and others were all present at their screens.
A promising project
The Digital Agriculture Market launched with the slogan “Producer, consumer, industry, all of them will win.” Many more direct or indirect sector stakeholders, such as cooperatives, consumer sector, consumers, small-scale farmers, retailers, fertilizer sector, associations, banks, agricultural consultants and those providing input to the sector, were told they would have a place in this market.
The digital market can be summarized as a guarantee on the value it produces for the manufacturer and as an affordable product guarantee to the consumer. Preliminary demand forecasts can be made thanks to the system, thus preventing both surpluses and deficits in production. When supply and demand are in balance, the price balance benefits both the producer and the consumer. Monopolization in agriculture can also be prevented this way, bringing about a sustainable production and supply chain by eliminating differences between regions.
The system will also provide promotional support for smaller producers with a low marketing budget. It will not only be possible to sell products within the market in question but to cooperate with various stakeholders and banks. The market can also be used as a data source for innovation studies and scale-ups, by acting as a representation of the sector's consumption habits.
It seems that the Digital Agriculture Market will be beneficial for everyone, especially rural agriculture. Undoubtedly, the project will be successful with the contribution of the stakeholders and the contribution of the consumers. The project has a rational, marketing-based, fair and futuristic structure that reveals the new vision of the Ministry of Agriculture, and we believe that it will be further developed.
It is not hard to imagine that the Digital Agriculture Market will be especially useful for food and beverage companies in particular, and will reduce raw material costs in the long term.
Although government decisions, practices, supreme boards, new food safety systems are all important, the creation of the market's own internal business discipline is more valuable than anything else to have a valuable impact. In the past, this required numerous managerial studies on issues such as customer and quality orientation, yet now it is possible to manufacture, implement and motivate companies in the wake of the new era, when concepts such as the "new normal" and "food and life safety" will be of valuable consideration for companies.
We also mustn't forget that nutrition is multidimensional in this process. Government decisions and practices come to life with the participation and support of the public, who will experience positive results for a sustainable life. Air, water, soil, animals, plants and humans can all benefit, all equally in respect of one another, with the motto '' feeding the planet'' boasted by companies with a disciplined approach. Furthermore, projects aimed at the promotion of zero-waste strategies must immediately be turned into a way of life rather than a one-off campaign.
The good news is that the steps taken by humanity will be positively received by the planet, given that the ozone layer has been largely healed across the course of the latest pandemic. So, being a follower and practitioner of the transformation needed has proved to be a matter of decision. Remember, future brands will have to take positions that are compatible with the planet.
So, our first priority in terms of branding in this time is to be calm, attentive and disciplined, to redefine the priorities. We will have to work diligently, but with love in order to contribute to nature and create value through work – not by being the enemy of the work.
*Writer, expert on bread-making
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