Top Turkish tomato exporter looks to hot springs to lead world market
İZMİR - Anadolu Agency
Turkey’s largest tomato exporter hopes to further exploit boiling subterranean geothermal waters in order to become the world’s leading exporter.
The Dikili-Bergama region sits on one of hundreds of geothermal fields where underground waters can reach temperatures of up to 549 F (287 C), according to Stanford University in the U.S.
Arzu Şentürk’s father Hasan initially founded Hasanbey Farm as an organic garden following a trip to the Netherlands in 2001. He subsequently constructed greenhouses on its 15 acres.
“The investment, which started with 15 acres of land in 2001, at a time 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,” Arzu Şentürk told Anadolu Agency, adding that she aimed to increase the total land area to 247 acres to boost production and exports.
According to Arzu, whose father died in 2012, he expanded the farm “not for profit, but for the country”.
In addition to geothermal energy, the area between Bergama and Dikili also enjoys 300 days of sunshine a year.
To uphold 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. Russian sanctions, imposed when Turkey shot down a Russian warplane on the Turkey-Syria border in November 2015, hit the business but also prompted them to seek 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 returned to underground geothermal reserves, cutting costs and helping the environment.
“We save water and energy,” the Agrobay website states.
“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,” it adds.