The EBRD is increasing a US$16mn loan provided to sunflower oil producer Turkuaz Edible Oil Industries in 2005 by US$4mn to support the company’s further expansion in Kazakhstan and neighbouring Central Asian markets.

Due to strong demand the company has decided to install a new sunflower oil refinery with a capacity of 200 tons per day, rather than the previously planned 100 tons per day. In the last year Turkuaz” market share has increased from less than 3% to more than 15% in Kazakhstan.

The company, which is a 90 per cent-subsidiary of the Saudi Arabian company Afia International Company (previously Savola Edible Oils), and the EBRD have been partners since September 2005 when the Bank extended a $16 million loan to the sunflower oil producer. As sunflower oil production in Kazakhstan is still small compared to Russia and Ukraine the potential is strong. Turkuaz’ growth over the past 12 months has confirmed this assessment.

The extension of the new refinery, located in the Aktobe region in western Kazakhstan, will also strengthen local agricultural producers. The company’s target is to eventually purchase at least 50% of the sunflower seed locally. The bank is working with Turkuaz to provide technical assistance for the training of farmers. State of the art packaging, marketing, labelling and product development will raise the standards of retailers and distributors.

Giles Mettetal, EBRD director of agribusiness, says the bank was proud to support the successful expansion of an innovative company with a clear vision and a long-term strategy for the region. It is one of the EBRD’s strategic aims to unleash Central Asia’s strong potential in sectors like agribusiness.

Turkuaz Edible Oil Industries was established in 2003. Afia International Company, a leading producer in Africa, the Middle East and central Asia where it operates in more than eight markets, bought a 90% stake in TEOI in October 2004 and has invested US$20mn since. Afia International Company is a subsidiary of the Savola Group, a major Saudi Arabian food and retail company.