Promoting Djebba’s traditional products
Inspired by the color of the traditional outfits from Djebba, the “Bouhouli” fig variety is easily distinguished by its deep purple skin. Popular in the 17th century, the fig of Djebba has recently experienced a revival thanks to the collaboration of several farmers in the region. At the head of the cooperative is Faouzi Djebbi.
By creating the Djebba Fruits SMSA in 2014, Faouzi Djebbi wanted above all to enhance the cultural heritage and agricultural wealth of his region. Gradually, with hard work, Faouzi has succeeded in setting up a cooperative of more than 60 farmers and has obtained the AOC label (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée) for the Djebba fig – the first fruit in Tunisia to receive a geographical indication.
Through the brand “Les Délices de Djebba”, the cooperative is promoting the richness of local products and traditional agricultural methods. More than a dozen products based on fruits and vegetables from the region can be found in the range: fig, quince, and pomegranate jams, dried figs and tomatoes, apples and oranges… products collected and prepared with a know-how that only farmers of the region master.
“The gardens of Djebba form a unique agroforestry environment reinforced by traditional and efficient irrigation systems,” explains Faouzi. “The micro-climate of Djebba combined with the know-how of the farmers of the region gives the region’s fruits a unique flavour, especially the fig of Djebba.”
In recent years, the traditional products of the cooperative have regained their popularity among Tunisians and are also finding new fans across the globe.
“Today, we widely distribute our products through major retailers in Tunisia and specialized point of sales. After obtaining the organic certification, with the support of Mashrou3i, we also started exporting to the Middle East and Europe.”
Since 2020, Faouzi Djebbi and the cooperative have benefited from the Mashrou3i project and the support of its experts. Building on the support of UNIDO’s PAMPAT project, Mashrou3i covered the costs related to the renewal of the AOC label for Djebba figs. Mashrou3i assisted the cooperative in improving hygiene processes in storage and packaging at their premises, to conform with the HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point) European regulations. The project also supported the cooperative to successfully gain organic certification for its products – another essential step for the brand’s expansion.
“For me entrepreneurship is a culture, a way of life. Despite all the difficulties you face along the way, you learn to never give up. My first motivation will always be to promote the richness and beauty of my native region.”
Faouzi Djebbi admits that 2020 has been a difficult year for their agricultural activities, and the outlook for 2021 remains clouded in uncertainty. However, with the cooperative’s determination and the support of Mashrou3i, Faouzi is confident about the future and already forecasts economic growth in the region through other sectors with high potential, such as alternative tourism and the launch of guest houses.