The other day at a Zoom meeting, I met with Alper Apaydın, who built currently the largest walnut business facility known with an operating capacity of 3 thousand tons in Manisa, and who comes from the family of the first agriculture minister of the Republic of Turkey, Zekai Apaydın.
The fact that Apaydın has undertaken a much larger investment in modern agriculture proves that his passion for agriculture comes from his genes, though he has investments in many areas such as real estate, energy, and tourism.
Alper Apaydın started to plant Chandler type walnut trees in the Manisa region in 2016. Apaydın planted not only walnut trees but also almond and olive trees. As of this year, he has reached 380 thousand walnut trees on an 8 million square meter planted area and almond trees on an area of 1.5 million square meters. Both walnuts and almonds originated from Anatolia, but unfortunately, our country has lagged behind in this field. Apaydın says that 65 percent of walnuts, 70 percent of almonds in our country are imported, and to reverse this situation by highlighting local and branded production, he is taking strategic steps.
Apaydın says: "In fact, they reduced the import tax on walnuts and almonds from 40 percent to 15 percent. The producer who produces and sells local walnuts has no chance of making money, but I set out on a long road when I started this business. I want to contribute to the development of our country's agriculture with the goal of modern and scientific agriculture."
I learn that Apaydın's company, Konsept Tarım, is making significant investments in the field of new generation agriculture with a team of 150 people in Manisa's Gördes, Salihli, Kula, and Akhisar regions, where he has also started horticultural farming known as agroforestry.
Apaydın says that thanks to the sheep and lambs that graze freely in walnut and almond gardens, they use fewer pesticides and offer a better environment for animals and that they have commissioned a modern facility with a capacity of 8,000 sheep. Apaydın particularly emphasizes that they do not believe in breeding without pastures and that it offers a terrible environment for animals. "On the contrary, we allow animals to graze in natural pastures, and grown and suitable orchards." Thus, we support agriculture in natural ways with animal manure. He says, "We have an understanding of agriculture that contributes to the nitrogen and carbon balance."
Not satisfied with this, Apaydın produces more than 25 thousand eggs per day with the Entelköy brand in free-range chicken egg production. Konsept Tarım also produces olive, almond, and walnut saplings in our modern tree nurseries in Manisa's districts and Fethiye district of Muğla. By entering the fields of honey production, greenhouse fruits, and lavender cultivation, the company grows with sustainable projects in agriculture and animal husbandry.
I learn from chatting with Apaydın that in Turkey, nobody mentions subsoil water irrigation, whereas both in the US and Europe, this method is used to protect water and soil fertility in agriculture.
Apaydın emphasizes that he created the first brand in walnut with the "Güzelköyden" brand and emphasizes the importance of the brand as well as the well-grown and high-quality walnuts and says that their goal is high value-added exports.
We know that we need a new generation of agricultural understanding. For this reason, the number of these promising initiatives should increase, and the government in Ankara needs to support the people investing in Turkey's lands. In the end, it is evident that the whole country will benefit.