Grows Tomatoes in Coconut Shell!

03-12-2019    19:21   |    Bogazici University News

TURKEY/CANAKKALE-Cengiz Genç exports the tomatoes grown in coconut shells in the greenhouse in Çanakkale to countries such as Dubai and the Netherlands.

Cengiz Genç, who grows tomatoes using an extraordinary method in soilless agriculture in his business established in Çanakkale, exports to countries such as Dubai and the Netherlands. Genç achieved maximum yields by using coconut shells instead of soil.

Cengiz Genç, a graduate of Business Administration at BU who has worked as a senior executive in the retail and food sectors for many years, was deemed worthy of the Sustainable Business Award this year for his smart agriculture initiative called “Mavruz” he founded in Çanakkale.

Ozgur Duygu Durgun and Gizem Seher from Bogazici University reported that Genç grows tomatoes by by using coconut shells instead of soil, which shows that a more conscious agriculture can be done with new generation agriculture applications.

Studied modern greenhouse in the Netherlands

After working in the food and retail industry for so many years, assuming that open agriculture will gain more importance in the coming period, starting in 2010, Cengiz Genç started some projects for agriculture and firstly grows the famous red pepper of “Yenice” district in Çanakkale.

Genç went to the Netherlands in 2011 and studied modern greenhouse cultivation at one of the most important agricultural universities in Europe. Having learned the projects of his close friends, Çanakkale Ceramic and Kale Group owner Zeynep Bodur and his wife’s new project on “reusing the waste flue gas”, Genç decided to carry out the project joining them to recycle the waste flue gas consisting of around 90 percent water vapor.

 Started to grow tomatoes in greenhouse established in 2018

Cengiz Genç said, “We established a 44 hectare greenhouse. In this greenhouse, we provide heating with hot water coming out of the chimney through a pipeline. Thus, on one hand we reused the factory's wastewater system on the other hand we created a controlled agricultural land. Our land was created by making a completely stony area suitable for greenhouse, which is 5km away from the factory and 120m above. At the end of 2018, we established the greenhouse and started to grow tomatoes. ”

 Cultivate tomatoes in coconut shell!

Genç, grows tomatoes in coconut shell as a new generation agricultural practice, explained the advantages of soilless agriculture as follows:

 Soil doesn't contribute to the plant as much except that it actually carries the plant, its main feature is that it feeds the plant with its macro and micro elements. If you can carry the plant with a similar material instead of soil, you don't need soil. We are doing the production by using coconut shells instead of soil. The 20 cmx1 m cushions contain coconut shells and the roots of the plant are able to hold and grow thanks to the water-inflated shells. I can even say that this method is better than production with soil, because we can get products for 41 weeks with this method. In this way, we function like a fruit and vegetable factory that works 365 days.

 The tomatoes that we produce are not below the old fragrant tomatoes that you get from the field with their smell, taste and nutritious properties. I can even say that the tomatoes we produce are healthier because no chemical drugs are used during production.

“It is easier to protect plants from diseases in soilless agriculture”

To understand that a plant is sick, you need to look at its roots, but in open farming you don't have a chance to see the roots of the plant. But you can understand when the disease progresses. In soilless agriculture, you have the chance to see whether it is healthy because you can see the roots of the plant. In our greenhouse, we do not use pesticide in any way, we use bees and useful insects instead which function as medicines.

 The yield of tomatoes in open agriculture is 3.5 tones per acre, but we can get 45 tones in the same acreage, because what we actually need is to get more yield from the same amount by reducing the agricultural footprint.

 When we think that agriculture has a serious negative impact on the environment, what we need more is to turn agricultural areas into forests and green areas. Controlled and intelligent agriculture provides more yield from the same land at this point. However, in controlled agriculture, the system works 365 days, in comparison to the open agriculture in which there are only seasonal loadings. Therefore, it is possible to contribute to employment through controlled agricultural practices. I think our project is an example in this respect, because both the added value it creates for employment and the positive value and efficiency it creates in terms of environmental impact are exemplary. Besides our project which is the winner of “waste management category”, another project using waste flue in this direction does not exist in Turkey.

Are there any drawbacks to farming on land near industrial plants?

We are getting very depressed by the news on these issues, but if you use pesticides unconsciously

in tomatoes produced in a bright, oxygen-rich environment, you will receive more poison than the airborne poison. In this respect no serious control mechanisms in Turkey. In this perspective in Turkey, I observed that there aren’t any real farmers but instead there are “villagers” in charge of farming and hence to change the perspective of the villagers is very difficult. Agricultural education is given to the villagers by pesticide manufacturers. Therefore, it is not easy to reduce the use of pesticide. It is not easy for the villagers to decide under which circumstances which pesticide would be better to use. So our main problem is deeper than the fact that “agricultural land is located near or far from the factories”.

 “We are far behind the world in agriculture”

Unfortunately, our country is far behind the world in agriculture. Not only EU countries, but in Latin America, for example, good agriculture is highly developed. A cooperative in Argentina uses the drone to raise awareness among farmers and warn them of measures to be taken. we do not have such a policy, whereas the Ministry of Agriculture, one of the most extensive networks in Turkey with the ministry. It is possible to find an agricultural directorate in almost every district, but coordination and planning are needed for awareness raising.

 “Advice to young people who want to move to the agricultural sector!”

We are just realizing how critical the role of agriculture and food will be in the future of the world, and in this respect we follow the world from behind. Agriculture is not done in the old way today, but with intelligence and consciousness. In a production sector where “vertical farming” is used, I would like to remind those who are interested in this field that luck can only find you if you are already prepared for it, if you are not strategically ready, you will miss it even if it comes right in front of you ”


 Photo Courtesy of Kenan Özcan

Comments (5)

Sam Ahilan at 04.12.2019

Excellent article and very proud of your achievement. I am the owner of Fibredust LLC based out of Cromwell Connecticut with many factories in india, Srilanka and Mexico. We provide what you need to as to the blend of coir/chip etc and soon we will be coming out with a newer version with Food fiber/coir blend.
Hope you can visit our factories and we can be resource full for you.
pls do visit or email to
+1 860 218 3511
sam ahilan

Rose mwangi at 04.02.2020

Well done I am ahortculture farmer ,small scale farmer, I would like to learn from you

Rose mwangi at 06.02.2020

I admire your work excellent

Rose mwangi at 06.02.2020

Invite me at your farm just to learn more

Rose mwangi at 06.02.2020

Employ me in your farm

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