The global pulse industry mourns the sudden passing of former GPC President and Hakan Agro founder and chairman Hakan Bahceci.
It is with great sadness that the global pulse community received news of the sudden passing of Hakan Bahceci, a true pulse industry giant and visionary who leaves a lasting mark on the industry he loved.
“When I learned of Hakan’s passing, I felt the personal loss of his friendship and support,” said Global Pulse Confederation (GPC) president Cindy Brown. “I also thought of the poem by Linda Ellis, about the dash between the dates on a gravestone. In this time of grieving, I hope we can find solace in his life. Hakan founded the Global Pulse Association’s Young Professionals, he encouraged gender equity on the board, and he turned the dream of an International Year of Pulses into a reality. He leaves us a legacy that will resonate for years to come.”
Hakan served as GPC president from 2011 to 2015 and founded Hakan Agro, a multinational agri-soft commodities supply company based in Dubai, in 1989.
As GPC president, Hakan spearheaded the drive to have 2016 declared the UN International Year of Pulses (IYP). In an interview with International Food Trader Magazine (IFT), Hakan said, “When I assumed the GPC presidency in 2011, I asked: ‘How can we move forward?’ Promoting production, okay, that’s easy, but we also need to increase consumption.”
The UN declaration gave the global pulse industry a unique platform to reach the world with messages about the health and nutritional benefits of eating pulses, as well as highlight the agronomic and environmental benefits of pulse production. But perhaps more importantly, as Hakan told IFT, “the way forward is to introduce pulses into the food industry.” By elevating pulses on the global stage, IYP sparked the explosive growth and innovation in plant-based ingredients and products we see today.
“The pulse industry will always remember Hakan for his devotion, generosity and friendship,” said Huseyin Arlsan, Hakan’s successor as GPC president (2016-2019). “I lost my close friend. I will never forget him. Thank you very much, Hakan.”
In the private sector, Hakan built Hakan Agro into one of the global pulse sector’s most respected companies. In 1996, in order to expand internationally, he relocated the company from his native Turkey to Dubai. Today, Hakan Agro has a presence in 24 countries and supplies 54 different food products from 55 countries to more than 1,000 customers in 82 countries.
In an interview with Idea Mensch last year, Hakan said, “I enjoy thinking about where I started and how we have built Hakan Agro over the years.” Reflecting on his start in the business, he said, “It was a continuation of my dreams from when I was 16 years old. I started out as an office boy on a three-month internship.”
From there, Hakan forged a career that led him to hold key leadership positions. In addition to his tenure as GPC president, Hakan served as the president of the International Agri-Food Network, the chairman of the Private Sector Mechanism at the UN Committee on World Food Security, and the chairman of the Turkish Business Council in Dubai (2011-2017).
As the GPC bids him a final farewell, we compiled messages from industry members who had the privilege of working with him over the course of his distinguished career.
“Today I lost a great personal friend, but the industry lost a great leader that still had much to give us. During our time at the GPC, we shared 20 years traveling the world and he was an example for all of us, offering guidance, sharing of his experience, but above all else doing what needed to be done. You left us too soon, Hakan. Dubai will never be the same without you. We will miss you dearly.”
“Hakan was a visionary without parallel. He had a real ability to see a way to build a team, enter a new market and grow the global pulse sector. Nobody could dream a dream like Hakan.”
“The FAO is deeply saddened to learn about Hakan Bahceci's untimely passing. At the FAO he was a household name when it came to private sector involvement in the fight against hunger and poverty. From the Committee of Food Security's Private Sector Mechanism, which he Chaired in 2013, to his important role in the 2016 International Year of Pulses. The support of the Global Pulse Confederation was paramount to the huge success of that year. The FAO will miss him as a tireless and inspirational leader of private sector contribution towards a better world. I will also miss his kindness and his constant smile.”
“A friend. A man with a goal who always went for it, always helped. Now more than a phone call away. Rest in peace, my friend.”
“It is with great sadness that we must say goodbye to Hakan Bahçeci. We had the honor to know him as a friend and colleague and spent many enjoyable occasions together all over the world. One of the first and most supportive DMCC ambassadors, he was a brilliant mind and a truly generous and kind person. He will be missed by us all here at DMCC. Our hearts go out to his family and colleagues.”