Since 2003 Rapunzel has been sourcing organically certified dates from CCF (Centre de Conditionnement de Fruits) in Tunisia. The family-run business of Slaheddine and Samia Chibani was certified pursuant to HAND IN HAND criteria in 2012. CCF has specialized many years ago in the areas of date cultivation and processing and produces only organic quality dates.
CCF is located in Douz in Central Tunisia. Douz is an oasis town on the edge of the Sahara desert where dates have been grown traditionally since time immemorial. Thanks to the introduction of the Deglet Nour date variety that is much valued for its excellent flavor, the town of Douz has developed into a major date producing region.
CULTIVATION OF FAIR TRADE ORGANIC DATES
The parcels of land where the HAND IN HAND dates are grown for Rapunzel are between 5 to 50 hectares in size and belong to the extended family of Slaheddine Chibani. This way the cultivation, the processing and the export of the dates are all run by the same family.
The date palms are cultivated without chemical-synthetical fertilizers. Compost made from the manure of the family’s 400 sheep is used as fertilizer. An ingenious irrigation system supplies the date plantations with the needed water.
The most infamous date pest is the fruit fly. In order to protect the dates, plastic bags are used to cover the seed heads. At first this looks very strange but the plastic bags effectively protect the dates from pest contamination
Mature dates are cut from the trees with a sickle
climbing up the palm for harvesting
At harvest time in November and December, the workers climb up the date palms, cut the seeds with a sickle and hand them down to their co-workers. They cut off the individual date panicles and perform a first quality sorting. The dates are packed in boxes and subsequently transported to CCF in the town of Douz.
There the dates are stored in a cool storage. The further processing – drying, sorting by hand, pitting and packaging – is done throughout the year. This way every batch is processed just as ordered.
The dates are transported in boxes for further processing
Hand in Hand WITH CCF
At CCF the employees come first. Most of the staff of the processing plant are permanently hired women. All employees have social security benefits and the company has its own medical room where all employees get regular, free medical check-ups. In addition, CCF runs a small cafeteria for its employees. The Hand in Hand bonus is earmarked for the construction of a larger employee cafeteria.
On site visit: Barbara Altmann of Rapunzel (2nd left) with Slaheddine Chibani Sabrine Ben Ali, Hana Omrane and Samia Chibani Chibani of CCF (from left)