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Olive oil waste recycling for compost production

A fraternal atmosphere is found in the greenhouse of Mr Zouaoui Youssef at Takerboust, in the northern part of Algeria. Spades in hand, they are a dozen young people mixing organic waste with amurca and olive pomace, harvested from olive oil extraction units in order to make compost. Through this initiative, the environmental association THAZMURTH seeks to reduce the pollution caused by the olive industry in the Aghbalou region. It therefore recycles this waste into compost, which will be used locally by farmers. Given the strong social-ecological impact and the great potential for reproducibility in the southern Mediterranean region, this initiative has been selected among 20 others by SwitchMed to receive technical assistance. This is the exemplary story of the Algerians who are taking on olive waste and introducing the culture of recycling and respect for the environment into local society.

Takerboust, a beautiful Kabyle village located more than 900 meters above sea level, offers a magnificent landscape of olive groves. Nearly everywhere in the town of Aghbalou the green mountains are adorned with olive trees. Indeed, olive growing constitutes the main activity of the people of the region. During the period of olive oil production, another sight (this time disappointing) arises: that of small brownish rivers full of waste from nearby oil mills: amurca and pomace.




The region has more than 200 oil mills, the amurca and pomace of which are, in most cases, dumped in crude form into the natural environment, without any prior treatment. This strongly contributes to the degradation of the environment, the destruction of the bacterial microflora of the soil, the pollution of water tables and water dams, and the gradual disappearance of aquatic life.

"The initiative, Olive waste recycling for compost production, was born after the observation of these harmful effects", explains Mohamed Ouchene, association member and project initiator.

The project consists of recycling contaminant waste stemming from olive oil extraction activity in the Takerboust region, in the Bouira Province, in order to obtain at the end of the process a compost which can be used as a natural fertilizer. The project also aims to promote the culture of waste recycling and the protection of the environment within civil society.

This effective valuation model (composting) has been well illustrated and implemented in other countries of the northern Mediterranean, which has encouraged some citizens and farmers from the region, as well as the members of the association, to reproduce this valuation model at the local level with the goal of participating in the protection of the environment. Compost made from the pomace produced by the association is in the maturity phase at the moment. The first field trials will soon take place.

The Thazmurth association, which is already quite active in the Bouira Province, is also organizing training workshops on agroecology and its environment-friendly agricultural techniques. Furthermore, it currently has forty some members, the majority of which are still students. Members also work with schools in the surrounding area through "green clubs", often organizing reforestation campaigns and environmental education. 



"Empowering young people and raising their awareness on the importance of protecting our environment is our mission. As it will be theirs in the future"

For Mohamed Ouchene, the key to the success of all these projects is teamwork. Indeed, the dedication of each member of the association has made it possible to successfully accomplish, so far, a hundred or so activities.

The initiative "Olive waste recycling for compost production» encourages sharing practices by already promoting the sharing of responsibilities in the performance of different tasks, but also the sharing of the results from this praiseworthy project.  

"For this project, the credit goes first and foremost to Mr Zouaoui Youssef, who generously offered us his greenhouse to create this whole dynamic of sharing".

"Thanks to the training that we received from SwitchMed, we were able to better manage our association", explains Mohamed. "In addition, SwitchMed also provides us with invaluable assistance, professional coaching from a local mentor, who assists and guides us throughout this incubation period"

Since its creation in 2013, the Thazmurth association has been dedicated to the protection of natural resources in the Kabylie region, specifically the National Park of Djurdjura. It works to improve the living conditions of the rural mountain population through connectivity and the protection of natural resources. The main activities led by the association are focused on the protection of the environment, the sensitisation of civil society, and the establishment of eco-citizenship through training, information, and animation actions; but also, promoting the partnership between administrative structures, associative institutions, national and international organisations, local communities, and residents. 




For more information here is a link to their facebook page.

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