World Bulletin / News Desk
Turkey’s largest tomato exporter hopes to exploit the searing geothermal waters sitting under the ground to help it become the world’s greatest exporter.
Agrobay, a company based in Dikili-Bergama in the Aegean province of Izmir, currently produces 15,000 tons of tomatoes from greenhouses that utilize the thermal waters dotted around western Turkey.
The Dikili-Bergama region sits on one of the hundreds of geothermal fields where the temperature of underground waters can reach up to 549F (287C), according to Stanford University in the U.S.
Arzu Senturk’s father Hasan founded Hasanbey Farm as an organic garden and, following a trip to the Netherlands in 2001, introduced greenhouses on its 15 acres.
His daughter now aims to increase the area of tomato greenhouses to 247 acres to boost production and exports.
“The investment, which started in 2001 with 15 acres of land when there were no geothermal greenhouses in Turkey, has reached 173 acres today, making it the largest in Europe and the second largest in the world after Mexico,” she told Anadolu Agency.
According to Arzu, whose father died in 2012, he expanded the farm “not for the profit, but for the country”.
As well as the heat provided from the earth, the area between Bergama and Dikili also enjoys 300 days of sunshine a year.
According to the business’s organic principles, hormones are not used to boost production and the plants are inseminated naturally by bees.
Agrobay currently exports 90 percent of its tomatoes to Russia and the EU. Although it was hit by Russian sanctions in the wake of the shooting down of a Russian warplane on the Turkey-Syria border in November 2015, this prompted the company to find new markets.
Among the modern techniques used on the farm, which employs around 1,000 staff, is a closed irrigation system that allows Agrobay to save fertilizer, energy and water.
The used water is collected and return to the underground geothermal reserve, saving costs as well as the environment.
“We save water and energy,” according to the Agrobay website. “We prevent the decrease of water over time in the geothermal resource, which is our national heritage, and this resource is transferred to future generations.”
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