The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development has approved a 20 million Turkish lira ($5.3 million; €4.4 million) loan for Altiparmak Gida, a family-run company that describes itself as the largest honey producer in Turkey.
According to the bank, the funds will allow Altiparmak to expand its natural honey and bee product range, which it packages under the brand name Balparmak, as well as to develop a new range of apitherapy products, such as supplements, pollen, propolis and royal jelly.
The new products will be developed at Altiparmak’s research and development center, which the company established in 2016.
The EBRD loan will also benefit industry stakeholders and local communities in Turkey. “The company already offers training to beekeepers and is extending this to create employment opportunities, particularly for women and young people, in the distant mountainous areas of the Mugla region where the company has one of its two current facilities,” the bank said. The training program will include distance learning with innovative online tools and mobile support teams on the ground.
According to the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service, Mugla is the biggest honey producing province in Turkey, which, in turn, is the second-largest honey producer in the world after China. Turkey’s climate and plant diversity allow for beekeeping in almost every region of the country. As a result, 150,000 families with a total of 6.8 million bee colonies are engaged in beekeeping, according to the Turkish Association of Beekeepers.
Honey production in the country has grown steadily from 82,336 tons in 2005 to 105,727 tons in 2016, according to data from the Turkish Statistical Institute.
The EBRD has invested more than €9.5 billion in Turkey to date, of which €1.5 billion was invested in the country last year.