Tunisia Second Among Africa's Organic Exporters

Despite the economic difficulties, some organic farmers have developed successful initiatives to rank Tunisia as the second largest exporter of organic products in Africa.

Date harvesting in Tunisia
By Claire Ngonga-Gicquel
Nov. 21, 2016 07:43 UTC
Date harvesting in Tunisia

The Tunisian Center for the Promotion of Exports (CEPEX), and the Directorate General for Organic Agriculture, have just announced that Tunisia has made major advances in organic agri­cul­ture to the point that it has become the sec­ond largest organic exporter in Africa, includ­ing olive oil, to 30 coun­tries on five con­ti­nents.

According to Aziza Htira, CEPEX CEO, Tunisia cur­rently has 2,987 organic farm­ers, 66 per­cent of whom are exporters, which not only pro­vides the Tunisian pop­u­la­tion with prod­ucts that are good for health and respect­ful of the envi­ron­ment but does also cre­ate jobs.
See Also:Organic Olive Oil Production
For Aziza Htira, the devel­op­ment of organic farm­ing is a com­mer­cial asset that must pro­mote the val­oriza­tion of local know-how and the improve­ment of the liv­ing con­di­tions of the pop­u­la­tions of these often mar­ginal areas, thus con­tribut­ing to the con­ser­va­tion objec­tive of Natural resources and cul­tural her­itage with a sus­tain­able devel­op­ment approach.”

Among the lead­ing organic prod­ucts exported by Tunisia are Tunisian Maltese orange, Harissa, Bsissa, Deglet Ennour dates, aro­matic and med­i­c­i­nal plants, sev­eral wines and spir­its, and olive oil. Exports of organic olive oil have thus achieved the best incomes with rev­enues of US$ 126 mil­lion out of the US$ 150 mil­lion in Tunisian exports of organic prod­ucts in 2015.

Samia Maamer, man­ag­ing direc­tor of organic agri­cul­ture at the Ministry of Agriculture, Water Resources and Fisheries, pointed out that this sec­tor is very promis­ing. We are the only coun­try in the Arab world to have put in place a tech­ni­cal reg­u­la­tion on the soil to exploit, but we will have to think about a new strat­egy, a new model of organic agri­cul­ture with all its achievements,“she said.

For those who may doubt about the organic qual­ity of prod­ucts imported from coun­tries based out­side the European Union, these organic prod­ucts must also com­ply with organic European reg­u­la­tions.

It should be noted that Tunisia is the only African and Arab coun­try to ben­e­fit from the recog­ni­tion of equiv­a­lence with the European Union for the export of organic prod­ucts since 2009. This recog­ni­tion was renewed in June 2015 for an indef­i­nite period.

So despite the eco­nomic dif­fi­cul­ties Tunisia is going through, some entre­pre­neurs have devel­oped some suc­cess­ful inno­va­tions and ini­tia­tives.

Domaine Fendri’s suc­cess­ful approach

Organic extra-vir­gin olive oil pro­duced by the mills of Domaine Fendri, located in Meknassy (in the region of Sidi Bouzid), has won the mul­ti­ple awards.

Slim Fendri, 49, heir to fam­ily know-how, has been work­ing in the farm since 1995. With the democ­ra­ti­za­tion of organic food, he has cho­sen to focus on qual­ity rather than quan­tity in order to enhance the organolep­tic prop­er­ties of his oils. And it was worth it. In 2011, he won his first inter­na­tional award and he has been col­lect­ing awards since then.

Today, the estate pro­duces 150 to 200 tons per year of green gold, of which more than 100 tons are used for export. The olive grower, who demon­strated with care­ful work that the Chemlali vari­ety, con­sid­ered as com­mon, could give a crop of excel­lence, plans to increase its pro­duc­tion capac­ity by plant­ing 10,000 addi­tional olive trees, while pre­serv­ing the human dimen­sion of his busi­ness.


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