Agricultural group Esh Ezzitoune: Project led by 71 women from 5 mountainous villages of Nefza (Reportage) | Tunisia News Gazette

Agricultural group Esh Ezzitoune: Project led by 71 women from 5 mountainous villages of Nefza (Reportage)

On the heights of Nefza (North West of Tunisia) is nestled the group of agricultural products’ production named after the village “Esh Ezzitoune,” a project led by 71 women from 5 villages in the region.

The project has been set up in the middle of the plains surrounded by mountains and greenery, in the remote regions of North-West Tunisia and more exactly in the mountainous village of the locality of Djbel Ediss.

The group and its components

On site, women members of the group were at the rendez-vous, for a warm welcome, at the farm that houses the headquarters of the group, in the heart of the village where are newly built the region’s dispensary and school.

A low barrier surrounds the land hosting the project. Accessing the interior, there emerges a good smell of all kinds of vegetable oils including in particular lentisque (Gadhoum) oil which is harvested from the wild tree of lentisque, according to ancestral tradition inherited from generation to generation practiced in this region abundant in forests.

Other dried plants fill the space with a pleasant smell (rosemary, thyme, orange blossom, etc.). Two women are already handling the devices for extraction of natural oil. In the other room, are placed on tables, all kinds of plants, a fridge and a gas and other utensils used in the treatment of plants.

The group headquarters, at the base of a depot of agricultural products, is divided into four rooms, two of which are reserved for the extraction of natural oils. A meeting room also serves as a place for training and exhibition of products. The same room is at the same time a revision room for the little ones of the village as well as for those of member women who can entertain there during weekends and the holidays.

On this sunny spring day, some members of the group are gathered in the building with red brick roof to present their project which also houses two nurseries for raising chickens. Others have beehives, cows and ewes in their homes for the production of honey and animal products such as “smen”(a kind of butter).

Five villages and 71 beneficiary women

The project benefits five villages Esh Ezzitoune, which houses the building of the group and the nurseries around; Ouled Zid, Khaylia, El-Hammam and Galella, which are like all the municipalities of these vast regions of the North-West located in places generally not easy to access and remote from each other.

The 71 women members of the group are constraint to travel daily using the available rural transport and pay on average two dinars for each round trip, a paltry sum but that weighs heavily in the budget of these mothers.

The idea of this group was accompanied by a timid change in the production methods and marketing means of their productions. Traditional means of production for the extradition of oils and other agricultural products, including chicken farming, have seen their mode of production migrate towards fairly modernised production means through the use of machines more adapted to their needs. There has been modernisation of production means without cutting with the traditional ones at the level of collection and treatment of certain plants, as in the end the group’s products come from a natural and wild environment.

Constraints and still insufficient production means

Conviviality and good humour are the motto for these women in such a special workplace that helps improve their material conditions.

It is a promising experience that opens the way to a better life for these remote populations, thus enabling them to get out of social and material exclusion.

Each of the women interviewed expressed her wish to be able to convey her voice on the constraints and shortcomings that the group suffers in order to see the working conditions improve.

These are women who lack resources but who are eager to forge ahead in this farming cooperative experience.

The raw material for production is collected by these women from the highland forests generally difficult to access. In front of the dangers which await them in these places inhabited by the boars and wolves, they leave in groups on distances that can reach the 8 km per day.

Group Management

A consensus governs work at the level of the management of grouping and the marketing of productions which is done directly with the potential customers, in particular with the tradesmen and farmers and / or within the framework of local agricultural fairs.

The revenues of the group are the responsibility of Samira Aloui in charge of all the expenses in a special notebook so that at the end of each sales transaction, the gains are shared equitably between the member women.

Expenditures, including electricity for chicken nurseries, are calculated according to the expenses of each and its contribution within the group.

The productions are marketed according to the seasons, knowing that 10% of the gains are devoted to the expenses of the grouping and 90% are distributed among member women.

The income cannot meet the needs of these women, who are required to pay a contribution of 15 dinars, annual membership fees. These women will only achieve financial self-sufficiency by having more means of production that allow them to produce even more. A marketing plan of their production will open the way for a better visibility among Tunisians and why not abroad, especially that their productions are extracted from natural quality plants and treated with a lot of heart and especially of efforts whose traces are visible on their damaged hands.

German support to the agricultural group “Esh Ezzitoune”

The Agricultural Group “Esh Ezzitoune,” is supported by the German agency for international cooperation (Giz), which works in Tunisia since 1975.

The agricultural women’s group initiated in 2015, is part of an agricultural development plan led by the regional authority for agriculture, the GIZ office for support to rural women and the agricultural information unit in the delegation of Nefza.

Source: TAP News Agency

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