SwitchMed recalls the potential of date valorization in Algeria
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The vast Algerian territory has a rich agricultural heritage and ancestral techniques of valorization of the different local varieties. Innovative techniques of date valorization have recently emerged and make it possible to better exploit this sector. The Rima Dates pilot project is part of this process with the aim of enhancing the low-value dates and co-products of date production, a sector of vital importance in the economy.
"The development of an industrial valorization process for dates is an opportunity for the diversification of the Algerian economy, outside the oil and gas sector" - Assia Ferrani, representative of the Ministry of the Environment and SwitchMed focal point.
In fact, in Algeria, about 900 varieties of date palms can be found throughout the country. Such wealth is often squandered because dates with low commercial value remain untapped and thrown in the trash. As a result, the production of some commercial varieties continues to increase, while it has been stopped for others. The Rima Dates pilot project demonstrated the untapped potential of valuing these low-value dates, having more than doubled its sales in a year, mainly sold in the local market.
The company Rima Dates has indeed benefited from a direct support of the SwitchMed programme in the improvement of the valorization of the by-products of the Algerian common dates in particular via the production of syrup, vinegar, and the extraction of oil from dates kernels. An important component of the project was to improve the marketing strategy of Rima Dates to give a better visibility of its products on the market.
These results were presented at the workshop by Hammou Boussada, founder of Rima Dates, following the interventions of Assia Ferrani from the Ministry of the Environment, Abdelkader Fergui (director of the CNTPP), Ali Harbi (AHC Consulting), Theo Baert, marketing expert, provided by SwitchMed..
Pheniculture is the backbone of agriculture in southern Algeria. If you lose the palm tree, you lose agriculture in southern Algeria, Nouar Laib, Director General, Ministry of the Environment
The importance of the palm tree in Algerian agriculture was demonstrated by the presence of about sixty participants from the date sector: organizations and associations, universities, as well as representatives of various ministries. While the first part of the event was dedicated to the presentation of data and analysis, focus groups then allowed the participants to exchange and develop the experience of Rima Dates: "The Rima Dates experience can be replicated for a multitude of other Algerian local products" stressed Chef Yasmina, founder of the first "table d'hôtes" called Dar Djeddi located in the Bouchaoui forest in Algiers.
The discussions highlighted the need to standardize the date valorization sector and, indeed, the entire agri-food sector. The principles of Rima Dates, implemented in Ghardaia, can be replicated in other date-producing areas, provided that the good practices, extracted from the project, are integrated, and that the process is standardized, and labeled.
These actions will build confidence throughout the entire value chain from producer to consumer. For this, the involvement of the different actors is necessary. These actors must always pay particular attention to community inclusion, just as the Rima Dates project case. Indeed, this project has made it possible to promote the work of women as well as people at risk of social exclusion.
At the end, a general presentation of the debates, highlighted the main recommendations of all the stakeholders. As an example, all the participants unanimously confirmed that there is an important need to structure the entire value chain of the date, by bringing together all existing initiatives and projects. Thus, the sector of the valorization of the date will be able to develop beyond the agro-alimentary sector and to find outlets in the cosmetic industry, in particular with the kernel oil.
A report will be published very soon and will include more details on all these results and capitalize on the good practices identified during the project, as well as the national workshop.