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Seeds of growth for Bulgaria sunflower oil
Ivo Ivanov speaks softly amid the growl of the heavy machinery all around him in his factory. He is the production director of a huge sunflower seed factory in the northern Bulgaria town of Polski Trambesh.
“In this factory we are crushing sunflower seeds,” he says. “The main purpose of this is to crush the grain which is coming from the fields during the harvest process and to produce from them sunflower oil which is suitable for frying and cooking at home—and also to produce meal which is suitable for feeding a lot of animals.”
Sunflower seeds are big business in Bulgaria. Ivanov works for Oliva, the country’s biggest producer of oil, feed and other products.
With its new facilities, Oliva “will be able to crush almost half of the total sunflower seed crop in Bulgaria,” he says, “creating work for the people and adding value to our farmers’ products.”
Billions of seeds arrive daily from the famers’ fields to the gates of the Polski Trambesh facility. On busy days as many as 200 trucks roll up to unload their cargo, which is then taken on a series of conveyor belts into the plant. There, seeds are analyzed, measured and sorted.
Every part of the seed is used in the factory. After sorting and analysis, the seeds are spun in a giant drum, which splits them open and allows oil to be extracted. It is then processed, either for human consumption or for animal feed.
The broken seed husks are burned in the furnaces, generating steam to help power machinery in the factory. It’s a neat and environmentally friendly solution. Sunflower seed husks are an efficient and carbon neutral biofuel covering for part the plant’s energy needs and substitution for fossil natural gas.
A Milestone in our company development:
A €31 million European Investment Bank loan to Oliva has assisted in four key areas:
- construction of a new production facility in the Bulgarian port of Varna, more than doubling the company’s capacity to crush sunflower seeds
- cut the need for exporting large amounts of the sunflower seed crop for processing, thus increasing employment and profitability
- increased production capacity enables Oliva to import and process additional crops from abroad
- state of the art equipment ensures efficient sorting and analysis of seeds in a safe and hygienic environment, free of the risk of contamination
“The EIB provided half of the projected costs for the investment of the new plant,” explains Venera Gandzhova, an EIB loan officer, “and we’re happy to support a company that is so important for the Bulgarian agri-business sector”.
The construction of the new plant in Varna marks a significant milestone for Oliva. Until now, its two plants were able to process 1,400 tonnes of sunflower seeds per day. With the addition of the new facility capacity will be doubled.
Good news for Bulgaria
This is good news for Bulgaria as well as the company.
“Bulgaria has been the second-largest producer of sunflower seeds within the European Union, but there hasn’t been enough capacity for their processing into sunflower oil,” says Gandzhova. “Now with the third Oliva plant, this will change. It’ll create more job opportunities within the country, giving alternatives for Bulgarians that have to leave for job opportunities abroad”.
For the first time in its history, Oliva may soon be a net importer of seeds, increasing overall sunflower oil production, creating jobs and generating profits in the country. In addition, the new industrial activity best available technology to increase efficiency and to minimize waste and emissions