Skaya, our Tunisian almond and pistachio supplier, has been engaged in organic farming for around 20 years. It is nonetheless difficult to find more organic producers. This is due to a lack of infrastructure and subsidies, but also due to the mindset.
gebana has been purchasing organic almonds and pistachios from Skaya in Tunisia since 2018. The small business is located in the mountainous region of Kasserine, near the village of Thala. There, the company founders Rachid Skander Hamzaoui and his wife Eya have about 40 hectares of land, which Rachid inherited from his father. This legacy and a desire to make a difference in their homeland made Rachid and Eya Hamzaoui pioneers in organic almond and pistachio cultivation in Tunisia.
In Rachid Hamzaoui's view, there is a demand for organic products in Tunisia. But dates and olive oil account for 90 percent of organic products, he says. These two products are also the only sectors of Tunisian agriculture that receive state subsidies. This is also evident from the figures of the Ministry of Agriculture: Between 2002 and 2019, the organic cultivation area in Tunisia increased from 18,600 hectares to 326,000 hectares. In 2019, however, almost 80 percent of this area was occupied exclusively by olive trees.
Lack of infrastructure and scepticism
But the lack of subsidies is not solely responsible for the scarcity of organic almond cultivation in the country. In principle, almond cultivation is appealing: local demand is strong and prices – additionally supported by high import duties – are correspondingly high. Family farmers can therefore earn higher incomes with almonds than with grains, for example.
Organically produced almonds bring in around 20 percent more than conventional ones. But Tunisian producers remain sceptical. “You first have to introduce people to organic farming," says Rachid Hamzaoui: "We're still in the niche stage: there are no logistics, no supply chains, no infrastructure and no cooperatives that advocate for the producers." He is convinced that, as long as things stay this way, the supply of locally produced organic products will remain modest.
From Rachid Hamzaoui’s point of view, another hurdle for many Tunisian producers are the obligations that come with organic cultivation. "They must prove that their land is really theirs. That scares them. They fear being ripped off and they fear the obligations," he explains.
At the same time, producers must train themselves and acquire the necessary knowledge to increase their fields' yield. The problem lies in people's mindset, says Rachid: "An old Arabic proverb states that you should first see and then act. Unfortunately, this is the wrong order when it comes to converting to organic farming."
Leading by example
The challenge lies in bringing expertise to remote areas. Rachid is currently in contact with the "Institut de l'Olivier" in Sfax for a future pilot project. As part of this project, he lets professionals experiment with innovative methods on a part of his land. He is hoping that, as other producers see what is happening and the positive results, they will pass it on. "Perhaps this is how the improvements spread," he hopes.
Rachid and Eya took the first step in this word-of-mouth campaign themselves by convincing neighbours around their farm of the value of organic farming. Two farmers have already joined them. And the neighbours, in turn, told their neighbours. Six other farming families have now expressed an interest in supplying Skaya with organic almonds in the future.
Centre Technique de l’Agriculture Biologique : Le secteur de l’agriculture biologique en Tunisie. http://www.ctab.nat.tn/index.php/fr-fr/situation-du-secteur/tunisie/statistiques (abgerufen am 8.06.2022)
Le Monde (2021): Au Maghreb, l’agriculture bio et organique en plein essor. https://www.lemonde.fr/afrique/article/2021/11/08/au-maghreb-l-agriculture-bio-et-organique-en-plein-essor_6101351_3212.html (abgerufen am 8.06.2022)
Please keep me informed about gebana and its products.
Halten Sie mich über dieses Projekt auf dem Laufenden.×
Smallholders and local producers harvest and refine products of extraordinary quality worldwide. But for many of these producers there is no adequate or stable market. You can buy directly from these producers via the Access to Market Platform and help them to participate in the market. The principle behind this is crowd ordering – a new trade model whereby a number of consumers order a product together so as to achieve a minimum order quantity. We at gebana support the producers with our know-how, and organise the logistics.
Enable someone to make their first export with your order. Please note: Unexpected events often lead to delays, and you may find that the quality is not yet perfect. For this reason, your feedback is absolutely essential. The export experience and your feedback are important steps for the producers towards accessing the market. As a customer, you are witness to the whole process, playing your part in pioneering work.
You can order from these producers simply and directly. You receive your product as soon as the minimum order quantity has been reached and the products are ready. The risk for you is minimal, since the producers already have a product that is ready for market. This sales channel is beneficial to both the producers and the consumers, since it cuts out the middle man.
Be part of the development of supply chains and support innovation! Some of the ways you can do this include testing new products, giving feedback, or financially supporting the producers in their next steps. In doing so, you will be able to see for yourself how the products and supply chains develop.
This is where you can see all the completed projects on the Access to Market Platform at a glance. You can find out where products are now available from or whether the producers are still seeking a trade partner.