Kenevİro Hemp Farming Is Reviving In Turkiye (1)

KENEVİRO: Hemp Farming is Reviving in Turkiye

TURKEY TO REDUCE IMPORTS BY HALF WITH “HEMP CULTIVATION.”

A new era is beginning for hemp, a versatile plant with a wide range of uses, from textiles to food, construction to cat litter, and countless benefits. Keneviro, with a $30 million investment, is establishing a hemp processing factory in Samsun Havza OSB, covering the entire production chain from seed to final product. In its Samsun facility, Keneviro will produce raw and dyed fiber, dyed and raw yarn, hurd production, and 100% natural cat litter and animal bedding from hemp. Uğur Balkuv, Chairman of KENEVİRO’s Board of Directors, stated that industrial hemp has the potential to be completely independent of imports and achieve 100% exports, saying, “This investment is a national project.”

Hemp, which can produce over 100 different products ranging from textiles to cosmetics, pharmaceuticals to construction, the automotive sector, and other industries, is being reintroduced to Turkish agriculture. Hemp, which was used in the past for making ropes, cords, sails, and fabrics, as well as leaves and flowers for medicinal and ointment purposes, was later utilized for bio-oil, biofuel, and composite production after 1920. However, due to misuse, its cultivation was banned. Turkey was one of the countries that banned hemp cultivation. In 2016, a regulation was published in the Official Gazette, stipulating the need for permits for hemp cultivation in designated areas, the necessity of inspections, and the procedures to be applied to unauthorized cultivation. In 2019, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced a decision to revive hemp production and increase Turkey’s hemp production capacity, designating 20 provinces as pilot regions, reshaping agricultural policies related to hemp.

KENEVİRO Hemp Farming is Reviving in Turkiye (3)

UOB Group, which operates in the textile sector and employs 1800 people, also focuses on hemp production under the KENEVİRO brand. Uğur Balkuv, Chairman of KENEVİRO’s Board of Directors, explained the company’s history, investment plans, hemp production, and industrial usage in a press conference. Industrial hemp came to the company’s attention when Uğur Balkuv’s son, Orhun Balkuv, was studying in the United States in 2016. However, due to the lack of legal regulations regarding hemp production at the time, the project was put on hold. Later, when President Erdoğan announced the promotion of hemp production and designated 20 provinces as pilot regions in 2019, the project was reconsidered, and research began.

Uğur Balkuv, Chairman of KENEVİRO’s Board of Directors, described the process of starting the investment as follows: “We made our first attempt in 2020 in Sakarya. We obtained approximately 30-40 acres of land in Sakarya Hendek for hemp cultivation, free of charge, from Sakarya Municipality. However, we could not achieve a successful harvest. We realized that for this business to be successful, there was a need for modern farming and harvesting machinery as well as the integrated and comprehensive industry. By 2021, we traveled to the provinces in Turkey where hemp farming was legal. Unfortunately, the situation did not look very promising; those who had previously tried to grow hemp had encountered many problems, and the situation had become quite pessimistic. It was at this point that we decided to thoroughly investigate this business. After three months of research, we decided to invest in this business. We determined that Samsun was the right city for the center of hemp cultivation and industry, and we chose Samsun Havza OSB. We traveled to competent countries and successful companies in Europe that dealt with industrial hemp, one by one, and made a business plan based on our observations here. Then we put our plan into action.”

KENEVİRO Hemp Farming is Reviving in Turkiye (7)

The target is 35 thousand decares by the end of 2025

Balkuv, who said they established KENEVİRO in early 2022 and participated in the tender for the domestic certified Narlı seed, which was completed in May at 19 May University, stated the following: “We won the tender and obtained the production and sales rights for Narlı for 10 years. In the first year, we planted 700 decares using Narlı parent seeds and local Narlı Saray seeds with a contract farming model. We also planted 110 decares of flax in trial production. The harvest of these products has been completed. In 2023, we obtained the production and sales rights for the certified YILMAZ seed, developed by the Karadeniz Agricultural Research Institute, through a tender. In 2023, we planted 5,200 decares of hemp with a contract farming model with 301 farmers, and we are planting 1,500 decares of flax with 15 farmers. Hemp harvests have been completed on 3,700 decares of land. Seed harvesting on 1,500 decares will begin after October 15.”

Balkuv, who said they aim to plant 16,000 decares of hemp and 4,000 decares of flax in 2024, stated, “Our goal for 2025 is to plant 28,000 decares of hemp and 7,000 decares of flax. By the end of 2025, we aim to plant a total of 35,000 decares of hemp and flax.”

KENEVİRO Hemp Farming is Reviving in Turkiye (6)

$31 MILLION INVESTMENT, FULL CAPACITY PRODUCTION BEGINS AT THE END OF JANUARY 2024

Balkuv, who stated that UOB Group has invested $4 million in agricultural machinery and equipment and $25 million in the factory and machinery equipment in the industrial field so far with its own resources, said that they will reach a total investment of $31 million with an additional investment of $2 million that they will make in the next 3 months. Balkuv, who announced that fiber production and hurd production will start at the facility on November 1, said, “We plan to complete all the functions of the facility by the end of January 2024. In this facility, we plan to produce raw and dyed fiber, dyed and raw yarn, and hurd production in the first stage. We also plan to produce 100% natural cat litter and animal bedding from hurd. We produced cat litter from hemp with high performance through our own R&D studies. We named our product HAPPY KITTY. We participated in our first fair in Izmir a few weeks ago and received great interest.”

Balkuv, who also spoke about export and employment goals, said, “In 2024, we aim for a turnover of $20 million in the first year. At least $5 million of this is targeted for export. In our second year in 2025, we aim for a turnover of $30 million. $10 million of this will be from exports. In 2026, in our third year, we have a target of $50 million in turnover, including $20 million from exports. In 2024, we aim to employ 400 people, and in 2025, we aim to employ 600 people. These figures may increase based on the results we obtain from our R&D work.”

KENEVİRO Hemp Farming is Reviving in Turkiye (5)

“This investment is a national project,” Balkuv emphasized, noting

that this investment should not be seen solely as a commercial industrial investment. He said, “When you consider its contribution to the country’s ecological balance, rejuvenation of our soil, increased yield with much less water consumption for such large-scale agriculture, and the absence of the need for pesticides, it is very important. The economic benefits it will provide to our country aside, this ancient plant has a significant contribution to nature and ecology. Industrial hemp regenerates and cleans our soil. As a result, it provides a 20-30% increase in yield for subsequently planted crops. Industrial hemp opens a sustainable source of income for our country’s farmers and offers a great opportunity for our country to raise its exports of value-added products in all sectors independent of imports. In the coming period, all developed countries will undoubtedly turn to this plant as a savior. They will turn to this plant because it is obvious that it contributes to carbon absorption and oxygen release, rejuvenates the soil, and makes it fertile. Global warming is becoming the biggest problem in the world. The whole world is revising its agricultural planning based on both food and the green agreement. Therefore, we need to consider this plant comprehensively, and through this, working on hemp farming and industries on open fields and large areas becomes very important.”

KENEVİRO Hemp Farming is Reviving in Turkiye (2)


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