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Zeytin Akademi, the only private sector organisation in Turkey that conducts R&D only on olives, aims to pioneer the production of olive oil with high added value. Zeytin Akademi Founder Prof. Dr. Mücahit Taha Özkaya said that olive oils sold for $110 per litre abroad can also be produced in Turkey and emphasised that the characteristics of local olive varieties should be well known for this.


Founded by Prof. Dr. Mücahit Taha Özkaya, Turkey's only olive academician, Zeytin Akademi stands out as the only private sector organisation that conducts R&D only on olives. The Olive Academy, which aims to research local olive varieties in Turkey and pioneer the production of high value-added products, especially high value-added olive oil, is currently focusing on the gene resources of local olive varieties. Prof. Dr. Mücahit Taha Özkaya, the founder of the Olive Academy, said that olive production is carried out in 30 provinces and there are approximately 100 local olive varieties and that there is a very serious potential in Turkey in this regard. "High value-added olive oil means being able to produce and export the same olive oil that is currently priced at $110 per litre on amazon in the US," Özkaya said, stressing that the characteristics of local olive varieties should be well known for this. Explaining that the Olive Academy has projects in this regard, Özkaya said they are working on establishing a mobile laboratory for field studies.


Explaining that this mobile laboratory will provide a great advantage in field studies, Özkaya said, "What I think is that this is not a small machine, but to place it in a caravan and place the laboratory analysis materials inside and make it mobile. Because we cannot find the same opportunity everywhere we go. We will make a mobile Olive Academy analysis laboratory. In this way, we will be able to produce more projects. With this analysis method, we will have a great opportunity for producers to bring local olive varieties into the economy." Pointing out that revealing the characteristics of local olive varieties will create an opportunity for the development of that region, Özkaya said, "We did this for Antalya, Kilis is next. Then other provinces will follow in order."


Stating that they are currently carrying out projects for some chambers, stock exchanges and governorships to solve regional problems, Özkaya said: "With these projects, we are using all our means to solve the problems of the country in olive growing." Prof. Dr. Mücahit Taha Özkaya stated that as the Olive Academy, they not only conduct R&D but also transfer technical information to the sector: "In the pandemic, during the process of staying at home, as the Olive Academy, we provided the trainings needed by the sector. On the other hand, we also provide consultancy to producers. We provide information on how to proceed. With different approaches, we share all the information about olive cultivation with them since we only work on olives in the sector." "Prof. Dr. Mücahit Taha Özkaya, the founder of the Olive Academy, said that R&D and research in Turkey is a very difficult and bureaucratic process and that no resources are allocated to researchers in the incentive systems. Özkaya stated that he has received project support from many different organisations until today and that he has come to the point of saying 'damn it' in each of them and said, "Bureaucracy is killing R&D". Stating that money is allocated for research in Turkey, but nothing is done for researchers, Özkaya said, "We conducted a SPO project. We went to the field for 17 days, travelling with 15 TL per day. When you return after 17 days, you take out a loan to pay your credit card debts. It is not clear whether I am doing research or being beaten up." If STEVE JOBS WERE IN TURKEY... Özkaya explained that researchers in Turkey have to deal with bureaucracy and accounting too much and said, "Researchers need to be paved the way. I am not going to learn finance and accounting system after this age. Anyway, if I am going to do R&D, I need to devote a part of my brain to it. I cannot do R&D if I think about where I will stay, which material I will buy from where, and whether I will be able to afford food." Özkaya continued as follows: "I always ask myself this question; 'Would there be a brand called Apple if Steve Jobs was in Turkey?' There are many people like Steve Jobs in Turkey. But unfortunately, all of them are crushed under the bureaucracy and disappear in the wheel of bureaucracy. Therefore, we need to protect them. Please, let's not destroy research that requires creativity. They hate bureaucracy and run away. Let's not crush and upset the researcher.


Stating that research is a subject that requires creativity, Özkaya said that competences such as foreign language and diploma should not be sought from those who want to conduct research. Özkaya said that he had met people who had graduated from primary school and built marvellous machines, and people who had graduated from high school and made $700,000 worth of materials for 50,000 TL, and added: "A high school graduate submits a project to TÜBİTAK, but he cannot get it done. They say, 'You are a high school graduate, we are not authorised to give you a project. The issue of R&D has been like a wound in us for years. If these problems are not solved, we will lose more Steve Jobs before they hit the market." 27.01.2021


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