Organic honey to promote Siliana’s natural wealth

May 16, 2022

Since the dawn of time, bees have been essential for the reproduction of wild and cultivated plants. Although bees are primarily used to produce honey, they enable the natural pollination of many plants and in turn guarantee food production. Thousands of farmers in Tunisia are happy to have them as a secondary source of income for their families.

Following their example, 37 years old Mehdi Oueslati, decided to install his beehives on the heights of Mount Boujlida. In his old 4×4, he often comes to inspect his 20 hives and move them along the steep paths as the small thyme or rosemary bushes bloom.

Like many young people in his region of Siliana, with a baccalaureate in his pocket and a professional training in computer science, Mehdi soon became an unemployed graduate.

“To get out of unemployment, I decided to train in agriculture and start growing vegetables. Three years ago I also invested in beekeeping and it became a real passion.”

At the beginning it was by accident and altruism that Mehdi came to beekeeping. Four years ago, he scoured the entire region in search of organic honey as a recommended medicine to treat his mother, who had cancer. But to no avail.

“When my mother died, as a tribute to her and to make myself useful, I installed my first four beehives, which I have since dedicated voluntarily to the patients of the oncological hospital in Tunis.”

The benefits of honey are well known in natural medicine, Mehdi points out, it provides many curative properties to prevent diseases including cancer and control the growth of tumours. Since then, it became important for Mehdi to develop a special farm in the region that allows him to produce organic honey for a very specific clientele that is looking for a 100% natural product. Looking for help to achieve this goal, his friends recommended him to join Mashrou3i and receive the support provided to farmers in the rural areas.

“My meeting with the regional expert from Mashrou3i was decisive in strengthening my skills and my know-how to face my honey harvesting with confidence.”

Opting for quality over quantity and following the advice of his coach, Mehdi invested in 20 certified organic beehives. He also benefited from training in beekeeping and environmental practices, which enables him now to apply all this knowledge to his own project.

“I also received online training on the benefits of business marketing and social networking to reach my target markets or customers. At the moment, my production is not very large, and I sell my honey quickly just by word of mouth.”

He added: “One very important fact is that Mashrou3i has made us particularly aware of the fight against diseases and the environmental issues of today. Over the past twenty years, we have seen a dramatic decrease in the populations of pollinators, such as bees. Some pesticides are suspected of directly poisoning bees and their offspring. According to Mashrou3i, our company must have a vision, a policy and an environmental approach and ensure that the air, water and soil are protected from all pollutants…this is the key to preserving the bees and also the agriculture of our region for future generations…”.