Agrimesti gets organic seal of approval
In recent years, prickly pear seed oil has proved an undeniable opportunity for Tunisian firms and many are already accessing international markets. Highly prized for its anti-aging and digestion benefits, the prickly pear can be transformed into several derivative products such as oil and powder, whose effectiveness depends on their quality.
Launched in 2019 in Krib, in the governorate of Siliana, the company Agrimesti aims to produce one of the best quality oils in Tunisia and to promote this fruit beyond the borders. To achieve this goal, the business was supported by the Mashrou3i project in 2021 to obtain organic certification and to enhance the performance of its activities.
Ridha Boubakri, 30, is one of the founding partners in Agrimesti. He has a degree in mechanical manufacturing and trained in administrative management at a very young age, preparing himself for a career as an entrepreneur. Ridha accumulated several years of professional experience and became the president of the Club of Tunisia for research and innovation. Through this association, he became aware of the importance of promoting Tunisian local products.
“The valorization of natural resources allows on the one hand the dynamization of the north-western regions through the creation of jobs, but also an opportunity to promote new products in the agricultural sector.”
In 2019, Ridha Boubakri and Abdelhamid Errai finally made their ambition a reality and created Agrimesti, a limited company with a self-financed capital of nearly 415,000 TND. Since then, the company has been very strategic in the collection of raw materials, the production process and the distribution of its products. Thanks to its location in Krib, the company benefits from the prickly pear resources of all the north-western and central regions, renowned for their large availability of the fruit. The region of Siliana, where Krib is located, is also only 2 hours away from Tunis, enabling the company to enjoy a proximity to the capital and its port services for exportation.
Ridha and Abdelhamid take care daily to follow a very careful selection process in choosing the farmers they partner with. Their plantations must meet very precise specifications to guarantee the organic origin and quality of the fruit. “We have a long-term vision for the future. It’s crucial for us to first have a quality product and then capitalize on our customers’ satisfaction.”
The company grew very fast. But the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic drastically affected its activities. “Unfortunately, after the pandemic, we reduced production and had to cut jobs. It was a very difficult time for us. We had 25 employees when we started our activities. After the pandemic, we were only providing 10 jobs.”
But the year 2021 appears to be a turning point for the development of Riadh and Abdelhamid’s business. With a view to accessing international markets, the company obtained Ecocert certification thanks to Mashrou3i’s assistance. After joining the CCPB (European Organic Certifiers Council) to obtain its first certification, Ecocert was the first step towards a flourishing commercial horizon for Agrimesti.
“Mashrou3i assisted us in obtaining the Ecocert certification. Thanks to this certification we have been able to access international markets. First the French market, then Germany.”
Having understood the importance of a certified product that meets international standards, the partners now wish to capitalize on their achievements and acquire ISO 22000 in order to strengthen their performance in terms of food safety and quality. Currently, Agrimesti is increasing its efforts to access new markets, including countries on the African continent where the opportunity exists and is still unexploited.