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In the Sahara desert of Algeria, paving the way for an innovative circular economy model in the dates value-chain

At SwitchMed we are developing demonstration activities to promote the implementation of policies and actions on the ground, towards more circular economy models in the priority sectors previously selected by the target countries. Hammou Boussadda, an Algerian plant biotechnological expert devoted to the dates industry, aims at upgrading his family business by turning downgraded Algerian common dates into other valuable products: syrup, vinegar, paste and oil for cosmetics. This is where SwitchMed comes in.

In a region of major date production called Ghardaïa, located in the Sahara Desert of the northern central Algeria, Hammou is paving the way for a circular economy productive model within the dates value chain. His innovative project aims at producing syrup and vinegar as well as extracting oil from downgraded Algerian common dates.

It is in his small family business - the Rima Dates enterprise established in 2014 - that Hammou explained to us the situation:

To date, the Ghardaïa date harvest is poorly utilized, since 60% of the fruits are not processed due to the fact that they do not meet the quality standards, and their by-products are rarely used. One day, we had the idea of coating the dates with chocolate. But unlike other confectioners we decided to use high quality Belgian chocolate.

"Nothing is lost, everything is transformed!"

By processing the unsuitable dates through direct sales and by turning them into confectionery, syrup, vinegar and paste, the company can make other products that can compete with traditional chocolate bars. Hammou also has the idea to extract oil from date pits and use it to make cosmetics and the remaining dry residues will be processed to produce fuel for local usage. Nothing is lost, everything is transformed!

Watch his video 


It is also a real source of inspiration to see that the company is geared towards a more equitable distribution of profits along the production chain, with a potential high impact on farmers and women in this region.  His produce is currently distributed by the Algerian supermarket chain Ardis. At SwitchMed we are supporting the enterprise with capacity building and expertise in the production of organic date by-products, as well as in marketing strategy to reach a wider range of clients. In the first semester of 2017, Hammou and his team are traveling to Europe to learn the art of making responsibly sourced handmade chocolate as well as organic date syrup, vinegar and oil.

Hamou Boussada, Rima dates manager

Rima Dates was selected as a pilot project under the SwitchMed programme funded by the European Union, in agreement with the Algerian Ministry of Water Resources and Environment and the EU delegation in Algeria. It will support the national SCP priorities of Algeria.

For further information, you can visit: The “Green Entrepreneurs” of SwitchMed: an incubator for success stories.