24 May 2018
Sidi Bouzid, Tunisia
Organic Food and Agriculture

Leila Horchani, founder of sustainable farming project Ferme Bio Warda, inherited her love of land from her family. Originally from Sidi Bouzid, Horchani dreamed of introducing organic farming and improving the quality life for rural women in her region. Specifically, she plans to cultivate potatoes, olives and raises animals (sheep, cattle, and poultry) in an environmentally conscious way. SwitchMed has coached Horchani in her efforts, recognising Ferme Bio Warda’s socio-economic potential and value to the community.

Every morning, with the same ambition and joy of her childhood, Horchani begins to plough her small field of vegetables. Born into a farming family, no other activity in the world could make her as happy and accomplished as working on her land with her hands.

Horchani graduated from a university with a degree in food hygiene and safety, but quickly returned to her native village with an idea in mind: championing high-quality, organic agricultural products. She faces a tall order: in Tunisia,  1,170 tons of obsolete, non-degradable and ultra-toxic pesticides are spread.  Horchani hopes to reduce this amount by 20 percent in the next 10 years and create at least 100 jobs for rural women in the process.

Horchani’s experience in agricultural research consolidated both her industry knowledge and career ambitions. Upon returning home, she gained extra motivation when she saw the pressing need for positive change in her own community.

“Only in my small village, 175 rural women work in deplorable conditions every day,” says Horchani. “It is true that despite the efforts made, the situation in rural areas has not changed much. Incomes are still very low, the capacity of the premises to invest is almost non-existent, and conditions for developing new businesses are far from optimal.

According to Horchani, these difficulties make it difficult for local farmers to reach consumers beyond local markets and spark economic development. This is where SwitchMed came in; Horchani has been trained to implement her “green business canvas” with further business mentoring. In addition, networking opportunities offered by the program made it easier for Bio Ferme Warda to attract funding.

“SwitchMed gives you the means to realize your green dreams,” said Horchani. “For me, organic farming protects the soil, the air, and our natural resources. It is the only alternative that ensures food safety for consumers. In addition, it saves resources and increases profitability.”

 

This article was originally published on the SwitchMed website.

Ferme Bio Warda Organic Food & Agriculture
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