Turkish Economy Congress and Exemption Law
In 1923, the Turkish Economy Congress was held in Izmir and it was resolved to support beet production and sugar industry at this congress. Requirement of a state license was stipulated for association of sugar factories in the country with the “Law on Concession and Exemption Granted to Sugar Factories” No 601 entering into force in 1925 and companies obtaining such permission were granted privileges and exemptions.
Accordingly; the Sugar Factories were enabled to benefit from the Industry Incentive Law, the sugar produced was exempted from consumption tax for eight years, and establishment of no new sugar factories in the five provinces adjacent to the factory was guaranteed for 25 years. Both economic and sociocultural development and modernization goals were sought to be achieved through the industrial facilities associated throughout such years.
On 5 April 1925, the law on the association of sugar factories was accepted by the Parliament and the following aids were granted to the company to establish the Sugar Factory in Alpullu:
- The sugar to be produced would be exempted from consumption tax for 18 years.
- Quarries supplying coal, lignite and tiles to the factory would be exempted from regular taxes and duties.
- The owners of the lands supplying beet to the factory would not pay land tax for 10 years.
- A one-third deduction would be made from the transport tax for the transport activities of the factory.
- The 5 hectares of the land on which the factory is to be erected would be provided free of charge by the state.
- The factory personnel would not pay income tax for 10 years.
- No new sugar factory would be established in the provinces and districts of İstanbul, Çatalca, Tekirdağ, Kırklareli, Edirne, Babaeski and Çorlu for a period of 25 years.
The Establishment of Alpullu Sugar Factory
The Alpullu Sugar Factory; was established on the banks of the Ergene River, 50 km south of the city center of Kırklareli, situated in proximity to the Sarımsaklı Farm, at the entrance of the town of Alpullu, right next to the Alpullu train station, where the İstanbul, Edirne, Babaeski, Kırklareli lines converge upon the instruction of Gazi Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. Alpullu Sugar Factory was built in the present location in the center of Thrace, due to easy access and advantageous positioning by means of the railway and highways afront, suitability for sugar beet cultivation, proximity to all regions in terms of logistics and the advantageous location for enabling both the socioeconomic development of farmers and, most importantly, the production of domestic sugar.
Alpullu, the first sugar producer in Turkey, was established as a private enterprise by "İstanbul ve Trakya Şeker Fabrikaları Türk AŞ/Istanbul and Thrace Sugar Factories Turkish Inc./" on 14 June 1925 with a capital of 500,000 liras. Türkiye İş Bankası AŞ /Turkish Business Bank/ with 68%, T.C. Ziraat Bankası / RT Agriculture Bank/ and Thrace Provinces Special Administrations with 10%, and people including Thrace villagers became shareholders of the Company with a share of 22% (22% of shares were owned by individuals, but the factory was established under favor of the state and such three individuals sold their shares to the state approximately four years following the establishment.) The company negotiated with various factories in Europe and commissioned the construction of the factory to the company "Maschinen-fabrikBukau R Wolf" in Magdeburg, Germany. (The German company also undertook the construction work of many sugar factories in the following periods. (Eskişehir and Turhal)
The campus of the Alpullu Sugar Factory was a large-scale embodiment of the development movement of the Republic with its 751,000 m² production facility, including the existing social facilities, and an additional 300,000 m² of social space. The construction of the factory chimney and the boiler works were also tendered to Topf and Erfurt; and other construction works were conducted by Mr. Ziya and Mr. Refiki.
The factory buildings were steel construction and brick infill. Thus, the sugar warehouse and the factory buildings at the front were completed rapidly. In accordance with the construction technique of the period, primarily the iron beam pillars were erected, and this work was undertaken by a German firm. An Italian firm has undertaken the rest of the construction. Even at the beginning of the construction, the Hungarian company, which would bring and install the machines to produce sugar, and most importantly, carry out the whole process from beet planting on the Thrace soil to sugar production, has sent its employees to Thrace. “Sample” fields were prepared in the area reserved for the factory even while the construction was in progress, and beet was planted under the supervision of the Hungarian chief engineer Gütherz Herman. On the other hand, beet cultivation was taught and encouraged in the surrounding villages.
Alpullu Sugar Factory is the first private enterprise of the Republic of Turkey. Despite the Uşak Sugar Factory was established priorly, the first sugar production was realized in Alpullu.
Founders of the Company
The founders of İstanbul ve Trakya Şeker Fabrikaları Türk AŞ consisted of the following individuals:
1. Faik Kaltakkıran (Deputy of Edirne)
2. Hüseyin Rıfkı Ardaman
3. Faik Öztrak (Deputy of Tekirdağ)
4. Mehmed Şakir Kesebir (Deputy of Çatalca)
5. İbrahim Çolak (Deputy of Bilecik)
6. Hacı /Hadji / Ahmedzâde Salim Nuri
7. Ahmet Rüşdüzâde Mehmet Hayri İpar
8. Keresteci /Woodsman/ Ali
9. Fabrikatör /Industrialist/ Burhaneddin
10. Kasım Yolageldili
Other prominent figures in the association were:Kazım Taşkent, Cemil Uybadın (Deputy of Tekirdağ)
The Groundbreaking and Inauguration
A company was associated for the construction of the factory, which included Thracian businessmen and capital owners, and Hayri İpar, the father of famous shipowner Ali İpar. Hayri İpar conducted the construction. The technical responsibility and engineering of the factory on behalf of the government was carried out by Kazım Taşkent, the founder of “Yapı ve Kredi Bankası/Building and Credit Bank”. The foundation of the factory was laid on 22 December 1925 and was completed in a very short period of 11 months. During the groundbreaking, Faik Kaltakkıran - the Deputy of Edirne, Şevket Ödül - the Deputy of Kırklareli, General Mürsel Baku - the Deputy of Edirne, Cavalry Regiment Commander Mr. Ahmet Hamdi, District Governor, Mayors and a large crowd of people were present. Alpullu Sugar Factory was opened on 26 November 1926, coinciding with the 4th anniversary of Edirne's Independence Day. The factory cost 2 million liras with the money of that period.
At the opening of the factory, Factory Manager Gutherz Herman and his assistant Chemical Engineer Mr. Kazım symbolically performed beet analyses in the factory laboratory. (Kopuz, Tetik, 2016). It is mentioned that a telegram was sent to Gazi Mustafa Kemal Pasha and İsmet Pasha to inform the inauguration ceremony of the Alpullu Sugar Factory.
Mustafa Kemal Pasha sent the following reply in response to such telegram: “I would like to thank for the sincere feelings expressed on my behalf on the occasion of the official opening of the first sugar factory and wish success in the effort exhibited for the economic development of the country.”
The Prime Minister İsmet Pasha’s reply read: “I passionately congratulate you on your success in the opening of the first sugar factory. I hope that your effort embodying high industry agriculture shall prove prolific and spread across of the country.”
According to Tekşen's book “Philosophy of Conscience”, in which he describes the first 15 years of our Republic and Alpullu Sugar Factory, Alpullu produced the first sugar on 16 November 1926, 9 days prior to the opening.
İstanbul ve Trakya Şeker Fabrikaları Türk AŞ visiting delegation presented the boxed candies produced by Alpullu Sugar Factory to Mustafa Kemal Pasha and İsmet Pasha. Vakit Newspaper reported this event on 24 December 1926 as follows: “The Sugar Factory Delegation presented candies in elegant boxes to His Excellency Ismet Pasha. The Delegation of the Thrace Factory visited His Excellency the President, Gazi and İsmet Pasha, and presented the elegantly boxed Factory candy. The delegation consists of our Internal Affairs and Trade Deputies, Çatalca Deputy Mr. Şakir and Kütahya Deputy Mr. Nuri.”
The Alpullu Sugar Factory has the capacity to process 3,600 tons of beet per day. According to Fatih Damlıbağ's book “The Development of Beet Sugar Industries in the World and The Example of Alpullu Sugar Plant”, 500 tons of beet was processed daily in the early days, and the capacity was gradually increased in the following years. In 1932, its capacity increased to 1,200 tons per day. For the first six years, only granulated sugar was produced, and in 1932, new machines with a capacity of 40 tons/day cube sugar processing were purchased and cube sugar production commenced. (Damlıbağ, 2017).
The factory produced 418.2 tons of sugar from 3,746 tons of beet in 1926, 16,102 tons of sugar from 109,000 tons of beet in 1932, and 37,854 tons of sugar from 318 thousand tons of beet in 1933. The daily capacity of Alpullu Sugar Factory, which was established to process 500 tons of beet a day, increased to 800 tons in 1930, 1000 tons in 1931, 1400 tons in 1943 and 1800 tons in 1951. As a result of the works carried out in the last 4 years, the factory has been modernized to operate very efficiently with a capacity of 4,000 tons/day. The developments and innovations regarding agricultural technology are being continuously communicated to the region's farmers quickly, and the process technology and R&D activities are perpetually pursued.
The Production Process and the Records Broken
As stated in the aforementioned project report of Ayşe Durukan Kopuz and Tuğçe Tetik, the factory commenced operation with a beet processing capacity of 500 tons per day in the year of association, and this amount has been increased gradually each year. The factory broke a world record in the field of beet processing and sugar production in 1933-34 (p.10). Throughout such campaign period, the factory worked for 250 days and processed 318 thousand tons of beet. During the 1952 campaign, Alpullu operated 169 days, Turhal 163, Uşak 161 and Eskişehir 159 days. These periods were evaluated in terms of "continuous working capacity" in their top ranks.
Alpullu Sugar Factory was put into operation in 1926 and underwent expansion in 1931, 1939, 1950 and 1968.
A cinema and restaurant, hospital, infirmary, pharmacy warehouse, sales store, school, mosque, dormitory and Turkish bath are amongst the social facilities. Moreover, the "Ergene Mansion" where the statesmen are welcomed and the "Great Mansion" where ceremonies are held served as the guest houses.
The stadium, basketball-football pitch, swimming pool and Turkey's first mini golf course are also available at Alpullu Sugar Factory.
Ataturk's Visit to Alpullu
The establishment of Alpullu Sugar Factory, beyond encouraging beet cultivation, contributed to the development of farmers, providing jobs for many, and the development of the country's economy and served as a precursor.
Gazi Mustafa Kemal Atatürk visited the factory on 20 December 1930. After visiting Alpullu Sugar Factory, which is accepted as the first factory of the Republic, with pleasure and pride, Atatürk wrote his thoughts on the sugar industry in his diary as follows:
“I visited the Alpullu Sugar Factory. I was highly delighted with what I saw. I wish the establishment to expand further and become excessively successful than already is. The increase of sugar factories in every suitable region of our country and thus the supply of sugar requirements of the country should be considered among our important goals.