A Study on Problems of Shepherds and Solution Suggestions: Sample of Erzurum Ispir-Kirik District Villages


In this study, it was aimed to determine problems of shepherds in villages of Erzurum-Ispir, Kirik District and develop solution suggestions in parallel to these problems. According to this aim, it was also included within the aims of study to determine problems based on shepherding of families who make a living on livestock in the region. The main material of study was composed of data obtained from surveys and interviews carried out in villages with village headman, farmers and shepherds. Study visits were completed within 3 months according to time planning made considering locations of villages at Ispir-Erzurum highways. Apart from these data, domestic and foreign literature reviews about the subject and information obtained from related agency and institutions formed the infrastructure of study. In the study it was determined that economic and social problems of shepherds in the region were significant and the most important problem was absence of legal description about themselves and their occupation. Moreover as a result of study it was also determined that there is a serious difficulty in shepherd procurement in the region which influences animal holdings in the regions negatively and as a result farmers either direct towards monotype livestock, decrease the number of animals or immigrate from villages. In this regional study which is carried out about problems of shepherds and solution suggestions, it was empha-sized that problems of shepherds should be solved within agricultural policies adopted throughout country and labor law, and it is important to determine regional problems and develop regional solution suggestions according to these solution suggestions.

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Güreşci, E. and Balkan, A. (2015) A Study on Problems of Shepherds and Solution Suggestions: Sample of Erzurum Ispir-Kirik District Villages. Open Journal of Social Sciences, 3, 234-246. doi: 10.4236/jss.2015.37036.

1. Introduction

The human beings have selected themselves new life styles in parallel to the developed thought systems and the increasing population after having sustained their livelihood with hunting and gathering. The most important of these life styles is the transition to the settled life. The human beings, having settled, have started to grow fruits-vegetables they need, domesticate animals and benefit from their meat, milk, wool, leather and power where they have settled. This type of life style resulted in the development of the first agricultural societies. This conversion, experienced by the human beings, has also changed their life styles, consumption habits, social organizations and the professions they are occupied with. These occupations have converted during the later years into new professions and specializations. And shepherding is also one of these and became one of the new occupations and professions of the people who have shifted to an agricultural society [1] . Then it can be said that shepherding is as old as human history and an integral part of stockbreeding among the agricultural activities. Such that [2] noted that the stages experienced by the exploitation forms of the soil by the human are compiled under four main groups and that these are ordered as gathering, primitive agriculture, hunting, fishing and shepherding. This means that shepherding is accepted to be a stage observed during the development process of the agriculture.

When the historical process is examined, there are records available regarding that societies have performed shepherding during diverse periods; e.g. people had their livelihood in stockbreeding in regions with wide pastures like Central Asia, where agriculture was performed the first time, and were occupied with nomad shepherding, an integral part of it. It is known that during the era of Cesar the Germanic had performed shepherding, too [3] . This and similar samples can be given for diverse period, especially for periods in which the agriculture developed or the occupation with agriculture was intensive.

There are diverse definitions on what shepherding is. One of these is the definition of “Person who pastures sheep and goat flocks” in the Great Turkish Dictionary of the Turkish Linguistic Society (TDK). Similar definitions are made in other dictionaries of the same society, too [4] . It is understood from the definition that the person, who guides the domesticated and exploited animals to pastures, grasslands, valleys, watersides in order to provide their nutrition or helps for their nutrition or performs similar activities is the shepherd. Along with this definition of the TDK that the shepherd is the person who pastures only small cattle, it is know from the spread used way in Anatolia that it also covers bovine. The following expressions are used on the internet site of Wikipedia: “(Persian: Chupan-Shaban, Pahlewi: shupan) The task of the shepherd, who undertakes the whole responsibility of the sheep, goat and bovine flock both in the stable or on the pasture, consigned to him or belongs to him, is to deal with the nutrition, health, breed, medication and tagging of the animals. In countries with developed modern stockbreeding, it is required that the shepherds have graduated from schools and, in addition, have passed a long preparation period beside an experienced shepherd. They wear a seamless, armless, felt cloak, which they bear on their shoulders. The living conditions of the shepherds change according to each season. In winter, when necessary, pastures the whole flock closed in a stable, and one part of it on pastures in the proximity of the farm, and one part on mountain pastures in summer. No matter if they remain in the farm or if they go to the mountain with the flock, the shepherd has always to watch over the animals, take care of them, to assist delivering animals, to milk them and of course to meet his own needs, too. This profession, which will be chosen by those who love the nature and animals, and beyond these, who desire a full independency, has challenging conditions.” [5] [6]

As to be understood from the definitions of the shepherd, it is seen that it is a profession, an occupation performed in all stockbreeding facilities and villages where these facilities are concentrated. Shepherding, widespread performed particularly in rural societies, in geographies where village and upland life is prominent, is deemed to be a complement of the stockbreeding sector.

Shepherding is widespread performed in Turkey especially in the Eastern and South-Eastern Anatolian Regions, where agricultural activities and stockbreeding among these activities are performed intensively. Even if it should also be performed in the other regions that stockbreeding is secondary among the agricultural activities, the existing terrain structure and the ownership status convert shepherding less important in these regions.

With regards to shepherding, possibly the most important issue that needs to be discussed is whether this occupation is a profession or not. Reasons like that there is no apprentice-master relation it passes, that it per- formed seasonal, that it is perceived along with poverty and pauperism, that the wage-employer relation is not clear etc. come to the foreground for that it is not perceived as a distinct profession. That shepherding is not mentioned as a term even in the labor codes or other labor law related regulations can be deemed to be a serious deficit, whereby in Turkey, aside from the shepherds, near to all of those employed in agriculture are already except from these laws and regulations. Though all of these, sometimes there are news published in the press regarding that a legal regulation would be in the agenda of the Ministry for Food, Agriculture and Livestock. News regarding that the foundation of “Flock Management” vocational school of higher education within the entity of the universities and that the shepherds are taken under the social security umbrella were supported by the ministry which is only one of these news [2] .

At the determination of the problems of the shepherds, in parallel with the fact mentioned above, first of all, there is no official information related to their numbers, which is another issue that needs to be dealt with. Beside this should be a separate determination of the problems of the shepherds, which are the most important part of stockbreeding, and the reflection of these problems on stockbreeding facilities and their families are important to be performed in relation to the issue. These important results reveal at all these evaluations:

1. It is not definite whether shepherding in Turkey is an occupation or a profession,

2. What they exactly do and the limits of their activity field are not clear,

3. There is no official information about their number,

4. It is not clearly expressed in any legal regulation, led by the labor code,

5. Whilst there is no scientific study performed about them, there are no regular reports of information established by the state authorities or non-governmental organizations.

It is a fact that this study performed related to the shepherds in Turkey is important when seen from this perspective. The study is conducted in a regional sense and is important in terms of listening to the problems of the shepherds from their mouth and determining the solution suggestions. Stockbreeding is performed in the Province Erzurum, District İspir, Township Kırık and its 26 villages significantly and it is known that the most important factor determining the scope of this activity is related to shepherding. This pre-information is accepted as an assumption and the main lines of the study are established within this frame. It is thought that this study will also contribute to other academic studies to be conducted regarding the problems of the shepherds and the solution suggestions and the establishment of information and documents to be needed by state authorities.

2. The General Structure of the Study Regional and the Selection of the Region

The study region is the Province Erzurum, District İspir, Township Kırık and its 26 villages and is located between İspir and Erzurum. The study is in the northeast of Erzurum and south-east of İspir and is a relative rural region. The map of the study region is indicated in Map 1.

Map 1. Township Kırık and its villages. Source: [7] .

The region is, as to be seen in Map 1, too, surrounded in the north-east by İspir, in the north-west by Pazaryolu, in the west by Bayburt, in the south-east by Erzurum and in the east by Tortum. The District İspir comprises the townships Çamlıkaya, Centre and Kırık and the associated villages. The study region covers the region Gölyurt Mountain (Pass) of the district, Viranşehir (Yaylacık), one of the springs of Çoruh River, the border of the province Bayburt and Akseki Village, called Harami. The region is called among the people in İspir and environment as Çermeli or Çermeli Creek, too.

The study area looks like a hilly plateau consisting of mountains with an altitude about 2500 meters like the Bozan Mountain, Kazancık Mountain and Yassı Mountain and hills below this altitude at the foot of the Mescit Mountains. An important part and some branches of Çoruh River constitute the water sources in the region. As to be understood from these geographical features show the climate of the region continental climate characteristics and the summers are warms and the winters are long and hard [8] .

The geographical structure, vegetation and climate of the township Kırık convert the region suitable for stockbreeding. The existence of wide grasslands and pastures resulted in the performance of pasture based stockbreeding. The water sources and vegetation of the region convert it into a suitable region for apiculture, trout breeding, plantation and production of medical and aromatic herbs along with stockbreeding.

The population of the study region has decreased progressively during the years. The most important reason for this decrease is of course constituted by the migration from the villages to the cities. Whilst the population of the township and its villages was 2017 persons in 2008, it declined to 1831 persons in 2012. When went back to past times, it is known that the population of the region declined significantly since the 1970’s until today [6] .

As to be seen on Map 1 has the township Kırık 26 villages. The names of the villages are: Gölyurt, Leylek, Kırık, Cibali, Yunus, Karaseydi, Kızılhasan, Yeşitepe, Mescitli, Bozan, Atürküten, Avcı, Çayırbaşı, Değirmendere, Mülk, Alacabük, Akpınar, Güneyköy1, Karahan, Yağlı, Yaylacık, Zeyrek, İncesu, Ortaören, KarakayaandAkseki. There is a settlement in the region without a village status named Kazancık, subjected to Alacabük village.

The general economic structure of the region consists depending on the climate, geography and vegetation of the region of agricultural activities. Its wide grassland and pasture brings stockbreeding activities to the foreground. But it can be said that there is a serious decrease in both the number of the animals and the facilities conducting this activity. It can be noted that the most important reason for this is increasingly, particularly as of the 1980s, continuing migrations from the region. Such that [8] have determined in the study they conducted that an intensive migration is experienced in the region and 60.03% of the household heads are thinking about to migrate from their villages. Again in the same study, it is revealed that the intensive migration in the region has also a significant effect on the agricultural activities.

Some general information is provided above about the study region. In the light of this information can the reasons for the establishment of the study region in the township Kırık and its villages be listed underside

1. The general economic structure of the region is agriculture dependent.

2. The region has a rural character.

3. Bovine and small cattle stockbreeding constitutes the most important branch of the agricultural activities.

4. The existence of grasslands and pasture lands convert the region suitable for stockbreeding.

5. There are limited possibilities in the region for agricultural activities in the economic sense except stockbreeding.

These reasons are listed; they result in that the study region is a region where shepherding activities can be intensive. The existence of shepherds in the region has resulted in that they are an integral part of the agricultural activities, particularly of stockbreeding. It is concluded that the region is suitable in terms of the examination of the problems of the shepherds and how and in which way stockbreeding is affected by these problems.

3. Study Findings

The study findings obtained related to the shepherds in the region are acquired from the interviews with the village headmen, farmers and shepherds during the village visits. Primarily are the pre-information obtained in relation to shepherding in the region presented as below and the other findings are revealed in line with these pre-information. [1] has conducted a detailed study regarding the terms related to shepherding and has bought in this study some similar definitions related to the shepherding in this region.

1. The terms and notions below are used in the villages of the region related to shepherding: the knowledge of these terms and notions allows that the communication language during the interviews with the villagers and shepherds clearer.

a. Hiring a shepherd: this is a pre-agreement between the villagers and the person or persons they intend to hire as shepherd as a result of the negotiations related to the wage and working conditions upon the content between the person or persons who will perform this job and the villagers. This agreement is generally not performed in written but the paid and remaining amounts of the wage is noted. This process, which is completed with the work start of the shepherd is expressed as hiring a shepherd. Like “We have hired a shepherd this year…”.

b. Going as a shepherd: the leave for or performance of herding the animals by the person employed as a shepherd. Like “In which direction did the shepherd go today... I have went much as a shepherd…”.

c. Quittance by the shepherd: the unilateral by the shepherd or upon mutual agreement quittance of the performed job due to diverse reasons like “Our lamb shepherd has quitted today…”.

d. Shepherding: performing the job of herding animals. Like “This man has shepherded in the village…”.

e. Handing to the shepherd: the inclusion of the animal into the flock of the shepherd. Like. “I have handed the lambs to the shepherd today morning…”.

f. Shepherd turn: the turn of the villager family to be determined by Salma who will undertake the nutrition and accommodation of the shepherd of the village. Like “Who is in turn for the shepherd?”.

2. Shepherding duration: whilst the shepherding generally starts in the region by the end of March with the initiation of the preparations, it is actively conducted in April when the snow is melted. This duration ends generally on October 29th. But these durations can extend or shorten, even if only slightly, depending on the special situation of the village or the shepherd. This means that it lasts in average 7 - 8 months.

3. Daily shepherding duration: it starts generally at dawn and continues until dusk. This duration can vary between 12 - 16 hours. The duration of shepherding can vary according to the herded animal type. For example is this duration longer for sheep flocks in the summer months, which need to spend the night on the mountain.

4. Wage: the wage of the shepherd changes according to the market conditions in that year. Generally is the payment of the wage performed as a part in advance and a part by the completion of the work. But it is also known that intermediary payments are performed depending on the need of the shepherd and the material possibilities of the villagers. The wage is generally performed in cash without an intermediary institution (bank). Sometimes is a part of the wage of the shepherd paid in kind in the region. In this case is the shepherd given animals in definite number. The money collected from the village for the shepherd is acquired per animal and generally by the village headsman.

a. Accommodation of the shepherd: an unused house or room in the village is provided charge free to the shepherd.

b. Nutrition of the shepherd: in general release the villagers a Salma per animal and at a rate of one day per animal, which is the money to be collected from each household by the decision of the board of the elders, and the nutrition of the shepherd is provided by the said household. But shepherds, who come with their families, undertake this themselves and this is reflected on the wages after negotiations.

When the hired shepherd in the region knows the village and its lands in prior, then he starts his job immediately, but if the hired shepherd doesn’t know the village and its lands, then is the village and its lands is introduced during the first days by a person from the village. Following findings are obtained in the study region by using the information provided above.

3.1. Number of Shepherds

There are shepherds in all 26 villages in the region. Their number and distribution according to the villages is summarized in Table 1.

Whilst there are shepherds in all villages in the region, the number of the shepherds in the villages varies at between to 2 - 5. One of the most important issues which attract the interest is that whilst there are cow and heifer shepherds in all villages of the study regions, there are sheep/goat shepherds in 4 villages, and lamb/ram shepherds in 3 villages. The reason for that sheep/goat shepherding and naturally related to this lamb/ram shepherding in region is low is that stockbreeding with this type is performed very little. It is determined that in only 10 - 12 of the agricultural facilities in the 26 villages sheep/lamb/goat and ram are kept. In this case, it is known that the facilities with small cattle don’t employ a shepherd or herd their animals with their own possibilities. It is already a fact that it is very cost intensive in economic terms for small cattle in a low number keeping agricultural facilities to hire a shepherd. The reason for those small cattle stockbreeding is performed by that less

Table 1. Number of shepherds in the township Kırık and its villages.

Remark: It is known that in the region 20 - 30 years ago also for oxen (it is a male cattle of which the labor force is exploited) sometimes in some villages shepherds were hired. There is no water buffalo shepherding in the regions since no water buffalo breeding is performed.

facilities is the decreasing population, the low ratio of the young persons (active population) among the remain- ing population and the like. The reason is that small cattle stockbreeder ding requires relative more labor force than bovine stockbreeding.

3.2. Distribution of the Number of the Shepherds According to the Animal Types

The number and ratios of the shepherds in the region are distributed according to the type of the animals in Table 2 and the animal existence constituted by their combination.

3.3. Demographic Findings Regarding the Shepherds

3.3.1. Gender

Shepherding is known as a job which is generally performed by men. This has always been so since the past until present and preserved this feature greatly. That the working conditions of shepherding are not suitable for the employment of female labor force and the attitude, behavior and beliefs of the society didn’t accept much that women become shepherds. As a matter of fact, that one of the general sociological features of the rural or village societies is their being conservative is scientifically accepted [9] . The gender separation is considered at the regulations related to labor law regarding the structuring of the working conditions or working branches, too [7] [10] - [12] .

That the study region is a rural region and consists of village settlements resulted in that the shepherds are generally male. But it is determined that the own daughters or spouses of those who are shepherding with their families have conducted short termed and lesser exhaustive manner shepherding, too. The distribution of the shepherds according to their gender is to be seen in Table 3.

As to be understood from Table 3, that 93.44 of the shepherds in the region are male indicates that this profession is performed male-centric.

3.3.2. Age

Shepherding is generally performed by the young and medium age groups. As a matter of fact, also this situation can be explained by a similar approach as at the gender. This means, the working conditions of shepherding are not much suitable to be performed by children and elder persons. That this situation is reflected on the study region is revealed in Table 4.

Table 2. Distribution of the number of the shepherds in the township Kırık and its villages according to the animal types (%).

Generally bovine stockbreeding is performed in the township Kırık and its villages and 88.51% of the shepherds are performing this job in this case for bovines.

Table 3. Distribution of the shepherds in the township Kırık and its villages according to their gender (%).

Table 4. Distribution of the shepherds in the township Kırık and its villages according to the age groups (%).

That 91.79% of the shepherds in the study region are between 18 and 65 years old indicates that the majority of the shepherds in the region are young and medium aged persons. It is determined that 2 of the shepherds under the age of 18 have come alone and in order to shepherd from their hometowns and that 1 person performs this job together with his family in order to help his family. It is determined that 2 of the shepherds over the age of 65 are performing this job with their families.

3.3.3. Education

Shepherding is generally performed by persons who couldn’t complete their education or who quit the school life pre-maturely due to any reason. In addition to this, it is determined that shepherding is performed by villages, whose education possibilities are lesser compared with the cities (Table 5).

It is determined that the majority of the shepherds in the study region are constituted by primary school graduates and it is in addition determined that these persons are constituted by young and medium aged. That the illiterate are constituted by the elder ones and medium aged is observed as an expected result for the study. And 1 high-school graduate shepherd has expressed that he will continue with his education and that he shepherded very less in the past and wants to continue with his education.

3.3.4. Origin

It is determined that the shepherds in the township Kırık and its village are generally originated except the region and even except the province. This situation is revealed in Table 6.

It is determined that 86.90% of the shepherds in the study region are originated except the township Kırık in Erzurum and neighboring provinces (Kars, Ağrı, Muş, Bingöl, etc.) and their villages. The ratio of 13.10% in Table 6 reveals that shepherding isn’t much adopted since the past.

Another finding obtained in the study is that 57 of the 61 shepherds in the region are born in villages or have spent an important part of their lives in villages. This situation reveals that shepherding is a rural or villager profession. But it is to be seen in Table 6 that 21 shepherds live in Erzurum center and 14 shepherds live in the province or district centers except Erzurum. It is learned from their own expressions that all of these persons have recently migrated from the villages in the environment.

3.4. Findings Obtained as a Result of the Interviews Related to the Shepherds

It is mentioned in the study before that it was not able to interview all of the shepherds. The most important reason for this is that the shepherds were not in the village during the conduct of the study and that they were in the terrain away from the village. But the information regarding 52 of the determined 61 shepherds are obtained by personal interviews and the information regarding the remaining 9 shepherds are obtained by the interviews performed with the relatives of the shepherds or the villagers.

The interviews with 40 shepherds of the interview 52 shepherds are performed in the village and with 12 shepherds in the terrain around the village. During these interviews is the purpose of this study explained to them in brief and the information they provided within the frame of the questions asked to them in a chit-chat atmosphere are noted and later are these information organized and converted into data. The interviewed 52 shepherds constitute 85.24% of the shepherds in the study region. The obtained findings can be summarized under the following headings.

Table 5. Distribution of the shepherds in the township Kırık and its villages according to their education status (%).

Table 6. Distribution of the shepherds in the township Kırık and its villages according to their origin (%).

3.4.1. Adopting Shepherding as a Profession

That shepherding is not adopted as a profession is already to be understood by that this is not included into the legal regulations. There neither a scientific nor a legal definition whether the persons, who are performing this job, are agricultural workers, temporary or nomad agricultural workers, seasonal agricultural workers or plain workers. That shepherding, one of the eldest occupations of human being is not defined as a profession in the scientific environments and that it is not sufficiently mentioned in the legal regulations is a serious deficit [1] .

Shepherding is a profession or occupation which is performed at many locations of Anatolia traditionally and which is even said to be descended from father to son in some places. It is determined that 47 of the shepherds, whose opinion is obtained in the region, meaning 68.67%, don’t deem shepherding as a profession and have listed the reasons therefore in general under the headings below:

Ÿ That they don’t have any insurance8,

Ÿ That they didn’t receive any education on shepherding,

Ÿ That there is no workplace,

Ÿ That there is no employer,

Ÿ That the wage forms are very different,

Ÿ That it isn’t accepted to be a profession in the society, and that they are influenced by expressions like “You weren’t useful for anything, go and get at least a shepherd…”.

3.4.2. Difficulties Faced During Shepherding

It is fact that some difficulties are faced with during shepherding. The reason is that shepherding is the herding of the animal flock in a natural environment. The difficulties and challenges during the performance of shepherding can be mentioned as below with consideration to the conditions in the region:

1. Negative climate conditions: flood, lightning, hard winds, extreme temperatures etc.,

2. Terrain formations: Possible to incur accidents when walking or running on mountains, hills or unevenness’s,

3. Wild animal attack: possible to be deadly attacks of wild animals, led by bears, wolves and boars,

4. Disease: diseases possible to incur due to the climate conditions, irregular sleep and nutrition and possible psychological problems due to the burden of the safety and security of the animals on them,

5. Legal crimes like theft: risk of theft of the herded animals.

All of the interviewed shepherds have expressed that the above mentioned problems affect them negatively when they perform the job, but 45 of the shepherds, meaning 86.23, have expressed that they are able to overcome these challenges, even when less, with their experiences and their knowledge on the terrain. It is a fact that there are some developments experienced in the region which have reduced these and similar risks in recent times and it is determined that they accepted these facts, too. These are:

1. The decrease of the number of animals,

2. The decrease and even not existence of planted and vegetated lands and that they go far away from the village,

3. The availability of more resistant animal races,

4. More widespread utilization of mobile phones for communication,

5. The improvement of the accommodation conditions,

6. Increased consumption of fruits and vegetables for the nutrition,

7. Increase of the awareness about shepherding.

3.4.3. Satisfaction and Expectations from Shepherding

It is rather important that a person likes the job he performs. It is in the most cases not possible in Turkey that the people select their profession or occupation and to adopt this selection by his will and by liking it. 44 (84.61%) of the interviewed shepherds within the scope of the study have expressed that they perform this job compulsory but that they though like it since they don’t have another job. It is determined that the remaining 8 persons (15.39) are obliged to but don’t like the job they perform. As to be understood is shepherding a job which is performed compulsory and since there is no other alternative.

The issues with which the shepherds in the study regions are unsatisfied are in general compiled under the main headings being deprived from the social security system, the wage issue, working conditions and problems due to the villagers. These and similar problems are also expressed in the reports of the TESK regarding the stockbreeding sector and particularly the sheep breeding sector [13] . The given answers to the question to the interviewed shepherds regarding which issue they would the unsatisfied with the most is as indicated in Table 7.

The first issue mentioned in Table 7 is not due to the villagers, but this problem is related to the public order and the legal conditions. Whilst the second issue develops as a result of the negotiations with the villagers, it can be said that a self-developed market is established in the region. And it can be said that the third and fourth issues are not such influential as the others, but that they are also related to the economic possibilities of the villagers.

Shepherding comes both in the study region as well as in all other regions to the foreground as an indispensable part of the stockbreeding. In this respect influence in village agricultural facilities based mainly on stockbreeding with regards to their income the problems of the shepherds at the same time these facilities, too. In addition to these problems, there are also problems sourced in shepherding and affecting these facilities negatively.

3.5. The Problems of Stockbreeding Companies in the Region Due to Shepherding

The study area is, as mentioned before, a region where the agricultural activity is generally based on stockbreeding. The information regarding the livestock in the township Kırık and its ancillary villages is compiled from the information obtained from them during the village visits. But it is determined according to the data for 2012 that there are in the district İspir, where the study region is subjected to, 20,888 bovine animals, 5131

Table 7. The distribution of the shepherds in the township Kırık and its villages according to the issues they are discontent with (%).

sheep and 4576 goats. It is estimated according to the statements of the villagers in general that there are approximately between 3000 - 3500 (mean 3250) bovine, between 800 - 1000 (mean 900) small cattle (sheep, coat, ram, hogget and lamb) in the region. According to these data is the number of bovine per shepherd in average 60.18, and small cattle in average 128.57. The results below can be concluded and the results can be evaluated within this frame from these general information.

1. The costs of the shepherds increase due to the low number of animals per shepherd.

2. The shepherds perform this work with few animals on few sown and planted areas.

It is established according to the first result determined above that the shepherd costs in the region are rather high. The payment of 12,000 - 12,500 in average to the shepherds in the region in a village increases the costs per animal. In this case can the villages earn no money or obtain a very low income. It is revealed as a result of this that the following results develop in the region:

1. To convert to an animal type with lesser costs, whereby this is in general concentrated as bovines. Even if there is not a market at any time of the year for bovines, they can be sold for very low prices.

2. To sell the animals and to abandon the village. As a matter of fact results the decrease of the income and increase of the costs in the abandonment of the village.

The determined second result facilitates the work of the shepherds. Thus the shepherds get a more advantageous position compared with small villager facilities in the region. The problems of the shepherds are listed in the conversations performed in all of the 26 villages in the region with 3-5 persons and generally with the village headman as below:

1. Problems faced at the procurement of shepherds,

2. The high prices of the shepherds,

3. The high costs,

4. Market problems,

5. Low income.

The Eastern Anatolia Development Agency (DAKAP) has handled in its “Small Cattle Stockbreeding Workshop Report” it has prepared in 2012 the problems of the sector in the Eastern Anatolian Region and referred to the solution of the shepherding problem as a part of these problems [14] . All these problems negatively affect the stockbreeding in the region and the low income in the villages is noted and determined that the villagers migrate as a relief from this. [15] has determined in his study that one of the most important problems of the stockbreeding agricultural facilities in the province Konya is the procurement of shepherds, meaning the need of the facilities for shepherds. It is understood that the shepherd procurement problem doesn’t exist only in the study region, but can be met everywhere where stockbreeding is performed concentrated. The Turkish Association of Tradesmen and Craftsmen has noted in its report regarding the sheep breeding the contribution of sheep breeding to the country economy and revealed that one of the most important problems faced by the sector is the problem in the procurement of shepherds [13] .

4. Results

Agricultural activities greatly maintain their economic value and importance in developing countries like Turkey. Considering this aspect, it brings to the foreground that the population which lives off from agricultural activities in Turkey is about 20% and that this requires that the problems and solution suggestions need to be taken together into consideration. It is know that the Turkish agriculture has, led by infrastructure problems, diverse economic and social problems. The existence and application of sustainable agricultural policies becomes more important for the solution of these problems.

Stockbreeding, which is one of the most important branches of agricultural activities, is one of the basic livelihoods of the people in our country particularly in the east and southeast. Therefore plays stockbreeding a great role in terms of the population it accommodates, the support for the vegetative production, the development of the agricultural industry and especially for the nutrition of the people. Also in the Province Erzurum District İspir Township Kırık and the ancillary 26 villages, which is the study region, is stockbreeding performed all along the time and commonly by traditional methods and constitutes the basic livelihood of the people of the region. It can be said that the study area is suitable for stockbreeding due to its vegetation, water sources and the pasture ground it has. This suitability is limited by that the villagers cannot earn money and cannot achieve a regular income.

A serious decrease is observed in the number of the cattle and particularly the number of the small cattle along with the decrease of the population in the region. But it can be noted that new opportunities are generated for those who remained in the villages in terms of stockbreeding due to the utilization of the lands of those who migrated and the increase of the pasture ground. But this opportunity is subjected to deviation threat from being an economic activity due to market problems, problems due to the increase of the input costs and shepherding.

The presentation of the problems and solution suggestions are handled within this scope in this study, performed in the region, by setting off from the fact that shepherding and stockbreeding is nested within each other. This means that fact that one of the problems of stockbreeding in the region is that the costs are high and that one of the reasons hereof are problems due to shepherding is revealed. These problems are handled under two main headings.

The first are the problems of the shepherd, where these problems are first of all such of human priority. This means that the persons, who perform this job, are human and that the living and working conditions of them need to be human. Beside these have the shepherds, along with this general approach, problems to be noted under the headings that they don’t have a professional description, that they don’t have any legal security and the difficulties they face in natural environment.

And the second are problems summarized as the procurement of shepherds, the wages of the shepherds and the reflections of the problems faced by the shepherds on the stockbreeding in the region. The problems affect the stockbreeding in the region negatively and cause as a final the abandonment of the villages.

5. Suggestions

The solution suggestions regarding these determined two problems can be accumulated under two again two headings.

1. Duties of the state: the shepherds become a legal status (the determination of the duties, responsibilities and authorizations of the shepherds), which is a decision to be made by the Turkish Grand National Assembly. The issue must be discussed comprehensively in the existing labor code or the regulations regarding those working in agriculture and the necessary regulations have to be made. Also the shepherds, agricultural facilities active in stockbreeding, the local and national media have tasks regarding the establishment of a public opinion and the revealing of scientific data.

2. Duties of the shepherds and the people of the region: mutual goodwill needs to be shown regarding the working conditions and exploitation needs to be prevented.

It is necessary to provide the participation of the parties to panel discussions, communes, symposiums or other assemblies possible to be organized on the problems of the shepherds and solution suggestions and to reveal the problems and solution suggestions with more concrete and realistic approaches. Here also the local administrations, provincial organizations and universities duties should be borne in mind.


In this study is used data of “A study on problems of shepherds and solution suggestions: sample of Erzurum İspir-Kırık district villages” that its project number is BAB 2010/1 in Ataturk University BAP Unit, Erzurum- Turkey. We thanks for contribute to Research Assistant. Gör. Tuna MERAL Ataturk University, Erzurum, Turkey Research Assistant. Özlem TOPCUOGLU Ataturk University, Erzurum, Turkey.


1It is a separate village named Kırık and the township center is Güneyköy.

2The village names are listed alphabetically.

3Cows are generally called “Mal” in the region. And heifer is expressed as “Düge”.

4Young male cattle are generally called as “Bullock” in the region.

5It is generally the bovine breed except suckling veal in the region.

6There is no sole goat shepherding in the region. Sheep and goat is herded together.

7Lamb and male sheep are generally herded together in the region except the breeding period.

8It is determined that 41 of the interviewed 52 shepherds have a Green Card (Health Insurancecard for those who don’t have a regularin surance). But there is no shepherd who has a social security due to performing shepherding.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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