The village of Djebba (Béja governorate) is well known for the production of the Djebba fig, the only fruit with a registered designation of origin (AOC) in Tunisia. The experience of Djebba is considered in Tunisia as a model of success, which shows the value of the AOC label as a catalyst for regional development. To further improve the protection and promotion of the Djebba AOC Fig, a public-private partnership was formalized yesterday between the Ministry of Agriculture, the Gifruits and the Fig Festival Association of Djebba AOC.
The Djebba fig with a controlled designation of origin (AOC) is now well known in Tunisia. To further improve the protection and promotion of the Djebba AOC Fig, a public-private partnership was formalized yesterday between the concerned Tunisian public institutions and the producers of Djebba. The representatives of the General Directorate of Agricultural Production (DGPA) under the Ministry of Agriculture, Hydraulic Resources and Fisheries, the Interprofessional Fruit Group (GIFRUITS) and the Association “Fig Festival of Djebba AOC” have signed yesterday a memorandum of understanding concerning the management of the Djebba AOC fig. The three stakeholders are committed to protecting the AOC, ensuring compliance with the traceability and specifications of the AOC and also promoting the production and sustainable marketing of Djebba AOC fig.
The Association “Festival Figue de Djebba” was created in 2017 by the producers of Jebbaois figs to promote and manage the AOC. Following the signing of the public-private protocol, the jebbaoise association is thus recognized as a full partner involved in the management and defense of the AOC.
An AOC is a sign of distinctive quality that can be used by all producers who meet the specifications. The AOC represents an entire region and all operators. Strict controls are necessary to protect the uniqueness of the AOC product, to defend the interests of local producers and to provide guarantees to consumers. The labeling of Djebba figs with AOC started in 2014. In the beginning, AOC-certified quantities represented barely 2% of local production, but in 2018 the labeled quantity reached 24% of Djebba’s production.
Today in Djebba everything revolves around the fig. The fig as a flagship product makes the village talk, improves its visibility and notoriety and thus allows to create a new economic and also tourist dynamic highlighting the cultural as well as the historical aspects of the region. The experience of Djebba is considered in Tunisia as a model of success, which shows the value of the AOC label as a catalyst for regional development.
At the signing ceremony the Director General of Agricultural Production Mr. Ezzeddine Chalghaf emphasized that the success of the Djebba experiment has triggered a training effect for other Tunisian local products. He recalled that there are already 14 products with geographical indication in Tunisia and 4 additional ones that are being prepared.
To date, Fig Djebba continues to be the only fresh product AOC in Tunisia to be certified, but the Tunisian authorities are working hard for other products such as pomegranate of Gabes and Testour and the olive oil of Teboursouk can soon follow the model of Jebbaois.
Mr. Mohamed Jendoubi, General Manager of GIFRUITS, explained: “The fig of Djebba AOC is the vector of a model of solidarity agriculture. The success of AOCs is measured in terms of increased income and in Djebba the economic gain for AOC farmers is very visible. “
According to a field survey the prices for fresh figs increased by at least 50% between 2016 and 2018 in Djebba. Mr. Faouzi Djebbi, President of the Association “Festival Figue de Djebba AOC” and also farmer djebbaois confirmed that the AOC has an economic and commercial interest for the arboriculturists of Djebba. On the other hand, he emphasized the importance of the AOC to promote agritourism in Djebba. “Thanks to the communication around the Fig of Djebba AOC, the number of visitors doubled between 2015 and 2018. Before, hikers came to Djebba only to admire the beauty of the Goraa mountain, but today the visitors are curious to discover the secrets of the uniqueness of our fig “Bouhouli” and our gastronomic products prepared with figs. “
Since 2014, all the activities supporting rural development around the AOC have been implemented under the Access to Markets for Agrifood and Land Products Project (PAMPAT), financed by the State Secretariat for Agriculture. Swiss Economy (SECO) and implemented in Djebba by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) in close collaboration with the Directorate General of Agricultural Production under the Ministry of Agriculture and the GIFRUITS.
The representative of the PAMPAT project Mr. Khemais Nasfi explained that the dynamics created around the fig AOC allowed to value and to differentiate more the products of the soil of Djebba. Before the dried figs were a typical product of Djebba intended exclusively for home consumption. Today sun-dried figs meet all quality standards and are marketed in niche markets that are enhanced by suitable packaging. For women in Djebba, the processing and marketing of local products represent very important sources of income, especially outside the agricultural season.
The production of fresh AOC figs will start as every year at the end of June 2019. The public-private partnership that has just been established is a first in Tunisia and will certainly contribute to further improving the promotion and management of the AOC label. This year, the jebbaois are counting on a production of AOC figs even more important to be able to answer the demand of the national market and also to reinforce the presence of Djebba AOC figs on the international market.
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