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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: The propagation of greater snowdrop Galanthus elwesii bulbs for the international horticultural market as an alternative to the unsustainable harvesting of wild bulbs in the villages of Dumlugoze, Kocasli and Daran, southern Turkey

Published source details

Entwistle A., Atay S., Byfield A., & Oldfield S. (2002) Alternatives for the bulb trade from Turkey: a case study of indigenous bulb propagation. Oryx, 36, 333-341


In the mid-1980s, the harvesting of wild bulbs for the horticultural trade was particularly damaging to plant populations in the southern Torus Mountains, Turkey. Of the 60 million bulbs annually exported, over half were snowdrops Galanthus spp. The 10-year Indigenous Propagation Project, sought to provide an alternative source of snowdrop bulbs for the international market, taking into account local livelihoods, customer demands and regulatory legislation into account.


Project sites were located in the villages of Dumlugoze, Kocasli and Daran, where the local people were known to be involved in the wild bulb trade. Greater snowdrop Galanthus elwesii was selected for cultivation as it does not require advanced propagation techniques. In September-October 1993, 198 kg of G. elwessi bulbs were planted in crop free, tree-shaded areas within the vicinity of the villages. The number of villagers growing bulbs was initially seven. Those participating in the project were provided with horticulture training.
The first harvest took place in the late spring of 1996; and thereafter, every three years.



In the spring of 1996, 303 kg of bulbs were produced, increasing to 1,237 kg (c. 200,000 bulbs) in 2000, by which time over 250 villagers were involved in the project.
Bulbs were sold to the export company (that provided the initial planting material) at fair price, including a premium to acknowledge the conservation value of the propagated bulbs.
The project showed that these bulbs can be successfully propagated by villagers for the international market, as well as meet CITES criteria for artificial propagation of plant species. The sale of bulbs has proved an important income source for those villagers involved, and artificial propagation has been widely accepted as preferable to wild harvesting. Feedback from customers noted that bulbs were more likely to be pest-free and grew better in gardens than those from originating from wild-harvested plants.

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