In Torbalı district of Izmir, the plains turn red as tomatoes have been laid on for drying. Dried tomatoes are then being exported to countries such as USA and Canada as snacks.
Tomatoes that are produced in Torbalı plains are seperated based on their processes; as dried or as paste, after being harvested from the fields. In the first tomato harvest this year, it is planned to produce an average of 370 thousand tons of tomatoes as a result of planting on an area of 45 thousand decares. 74 thousand tons of harvested tomatoes are going to be exported as dried tomatoes to countries such as USA and Canada. The dried tomato harvest, which started on July 15 this year, will continue for a month. Dried tomatoes harvested in the summer will be frozen and stored for winter. Seasonal workers who work devotedly under the sun every day from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. cut the tomatoes in half, salt them and leave them to the fields where the white covers are laid to dry. Approximately 1 kilo of dried tomatoes are obtained from 13 kilograms of tomatoes kept in the sun for about a week. Stating that 20 percent of the tomatoes produced are dried and 80 percent processed as paste, Abdulvahap Olgun, Chairman of Torbalı Chamber of Commerce, said, “With its sun angle and humidity, Torbalı is a special region. Tomatoes grown here and dried under the sun are processed in our facilities. We export them to Canada, Brazil, Japan and Russia. The culture of consuming dried tomatoes are much higher in European countries, as they consume it a lot more than here in Turkey. They are consuming them as ingredients for sauces, pizza and sandwiches and even as snacks for breakfast. Dried tomato is a valuable and high value-added product for us in this sense. It is really important that products do not rot in seasons when our products are abundant. During these periods, we process them in our facilities and ensure that they are used in other seasons. Employment is high too. Torbalı’s tomatoes used to be left in the field because they could not be sold. But now it is prepared both as dried and as paste. Both are farmers and our economy gain from this. Our brothers and sisters sacrifice themselves by working under the sun. According to countries’ demands, in some greenhouses the dried tomatoes are produced with sulphur and in some greenhouses they are produced with salt. Tomatoes will be produced everywhere during this 1 month period. The important thing is that we are able to consume it in other months. To achieve this, we stock the dried tomatoes in our cold storages and process them within the year. During the coronavirus, agriculture’s importance is increased significantly. During these hard times our farmers are keeping to work with their strong wills.”