In February 2021, Fert and its Tunisian partner, Ager, organized a study trip for the Chaambi mutual agricultural services society (SMSA) in the governorate of Kasserine. The objective: to allow this cooperative to develop its project of collection and purchase of aromatic and medicinal plants (MAP) by studying similar experiences.

The SMSA Chaambi regroups young farmers from Ouled Mansour near the Chaambi mountain. This young cooperative aims to support its members in improving orchard management (especially apple trees) but also to facilitate the supply of agricultural inputs and the commercialization of aromatic and medicinal plants (wild rosemary, pelargonium, mint).

Fert and Ager met this cooperative in 2019. In 2021, a partnership has been established and focuses on supporting the launch of a collection and purchasing service for MAPs. The SMSA wishes to buy the plants produced by its members, transform them into essential oils, floral waters or dried plants and commercialize them.

In October 2020, an exchange workshop was organized with about 15 members. This workshop allowed to federate the farmers around the project and to think about the first principles of organization and functioning of the service.

Three main questions emerged from this workshop: how to help members in the supply of plants?; how to operate the distillation and drying unit?; how to commercialize the transformed products?

Study trip

The exchange trip, a key tool in Fert’s approach, allowed for exchanges between peers: farmers to farmers; leaders to leaders. At the same time that it is a source of motivation, it allows the exchange of knowledge and know-how. However, it requires a strong interface (role played by Ager and Fert) to prepare, facilitate and monitor the changes.

To answer this, a study trip was organized in February 2021. Farmers traveled to the north of Tunisia (Jendouba, Zaghouan, Sousse) to learn about the experiences of other farmers’ organizations that extract essential oils, a tree nursery and merchants of MAP products.

This study trip revealed to be very enriching for the farmers who were able to develop their project.

“The trip opened our eyes to various possibilities. This is the first time we have a more concrete view of our project. We realize that we need to rethink several things, but we are even more motivated. “

Wadii Zorgui – farmer and SMSA’s chairman

The farmers thus found answers to their questions by being inspired by the experiences of the actors they met.

On the supply ...

“Before the various visits, we were not sure how to secure the supply of plants for MAP production. We realized that producing our own plants to start was complicated, but a tree nursery that supplies a SAHM we met on the trip proposed a partnership. “

Anwer Ferchichi – member farmer

On the transformation...

“The visits taught us so much about the practical aspects of transformation. We had the opportunity to see concretely the different steps of extraction and even to practice with the members of the visited FOs. Thanks to this, we made new decisions such as equipping ourselves with a distiller of lower capacity than initially imagined and deferring the acquisition of the dryer. These decisions, in addition to being rational in relation to the needs of our project, will undoubtedly facilitate our access to financing to acquire the equipment. “

Awatef Ferchichi – member farmer

On the commercialization…

” Commercialization of the oils was a key issue. With this trip, we have a better understanding of the various opportunities. At the beginning, we want to initiate partnerships with some of the farmers’ organizations we met to sell our production because they have insufficient production to satisfy their buyers. We also realized that there was a strong demand for rosemary essential oils in Tunisia. Our area has large areas of wild rosemary, so we will prioritize this production to start our business. “

Okba Zorgui – member farmer

SMSA is now organizing itself to start production for the 2021 rosemary season (harvest in May and June).