Promoting the power of Tabarka’s medicinal plants

July 1, 2020

On the heights of Tabarka, the lands of BIOHEMERA extend as far as the eye can see. Launched by Chaker Slaymi, this plantation is dedicated to the cultivation of medicinal plants and organic vegetables from the region.

Biohemera came to light thanks to the determination of its founder, Chaker Slaymi, a multi-talented manager, doctor emeritus in Cellular and Molecular Biology in France, teacher, manager of a university incubator, but above all a nature lover.

“I was born on the heights of Houamdia, a region with a lot natural assets that are often overlooked,” says Chaker, “During my childhood I nurtured a love for this region. Then inspired by science and my medical knowledge, I decided to return to Tunisia to unlock the region’s potential.”

“My six-month experience in the oncology pharmaceutical industry in Montpellier was decisive. I saw with my own eyes, the harmful effects that chemicals can have on the human body. It got me thinking about if there was a way to do things differently.”

Convinced of the healing virtues of medicinal plants, Chaker began researching ancestral knowledge and talking with elderly people in the region to rediscover the therapeutic qualities of plants and learn how best to cultivate them.

In January 2016, the young scientist made his dream come true by finding land, setting up a plantation and beginning to cultivate organic medicinal plants such as dill, thyme and coriander. Chaker was even more convinced of the region’s potential after being awarded by FAO and several other institutions such as GIZ, CONECT and APIA for his efforts in sustainable agriculture.

“The first phase, the development of organic agriculture was successful and finalized thanks to the support of Mashrou3i. The project helped me to gain the organic certification in my first year of business with the CCPB certification for Europe, and the following year with the USDA certification for America.”

Biohemera’s most important investment remains above all improving the social well-being of the local community. The company has chosen to work with women from the region, especially those in disadvantaged situations.

“Our company recruited 35 women to work directly on the fields in cultivation, weeding and harvesting. And we aim to support them by securing their future in terms of social rights and professional development.”

“There is a growing demand for organic products in the Tunisian market. We can now multiply the crops and offer seeds to women workers so that they can cultivate their own land and sell their crops back to Biohemera. Many of these women are university graduates but never found a job. We are also now cooperating on a third phase: the launch of a laboratory where we are training these women in distillation and drying so they have the tools to manage their time and work independently.”

Chaker is a founding member of a new association of the organic sector. Confident about the future, Chaker’s mission is to work for the development of the region’s biodiversity, to raise awareness among future generations and above all to support young entrepreneurs who want to start a project in the organic sector.