Despite being the coldest region of Turkey, with temperatures that can drop to -46 °C during the winter, the eastern region of Ayranjilar produces more than 1,000 tons of tomatoes throughout the year thanks to geothermal energy.
Since 2006, the Caldiran Geothermal Inc. company has 34,000 m² of high-tech greenhouses (including 500 m² of seedlings) at 2050 meters of altitude. The greenhouses are heated with the heat generated in 5 geothermal wells, which allows producing vegetables in a region where the snow and cold weather reign most of the year.
In addition to producing over a million kilos of tomatoes annually, these greenhouses also produce cucumbers. In total, 40 people work at the facilities, including 30 women, which increases employment in the region. The products are sold under the Agvan brand in the local market and exported to Russia and Georgia. Last year, Agvan received the award as the region's most prestigious brand.
According to the project coordinator, Yusuf Tashkina, the region is rich in geothermal water resources. This allows them to produce products at any time of the year. On colder days, when the outside temperature reaches -36 to -40 ºC, the air temperature in the greenhouse does not drop below +15 ºC. Until recently, Turkey had no experience growing tomatoes in such extreme conditions.
The products grown by Caldiran Geothermal have GlobalGAP and ITU quality and safety certificates. Mehmet Emin Beyish, a member of the company's board of directors, said they use bumblebees to pollinate the plants, which allows them to grow tomatoes without the use of phytohormone agents. In addition, they have significantly decreased the use of pesticides thanks to the use of biological pest control methods.