The demand for tasty, high-quality tomatoes continues to grow and tomatoes are eaten more and more frequently not only in summer, but in winter as well. Agro Care is able to grow tomatoes all year round to supply its customers 12 months a year with tomatoes of the same high standard of quality.
The lack of sunlight in winter causes production to drop to about half of what is harvested in summer. To ensure that Agro Care can meet the growing demand for tomatoes in winter without creating a summer production peak, a strategic plan was compiled in 2010 and a location was sought where tomatoes could be grown in winter under the same conditions as in the Netherlands in summer in terms of illumination and temperature.
The perfect location was found on the edge of the Sahara, in the south-eastern part of Tunisia, and the first 2.5 hectares of the modern Desert Joy tomato farm were prepared in 2013. The farm now has 10 hectares of greenhouses and the organisation is still expanding steadily. Part of the Agro Care range is grown here, with a taste and quality that easily rival that of the tomatoes produced in the Netherlands.
Click here for more information about Desert Joy (in English).
What was most important to Agro Care was that the location satisfied several key requirements. Logistics to Europe, for example, had to be easy to arrange; there had to be enough water (without creating a negative impact on the drinking water in the region) and there had to be enough people among the local population who could and wanted to work in the greenhouses and packaging shed.
Desert Joy is situated in a region of Tunisia where unemployment is high and people have a difficult time making ends meet. The establishment of Desert Joy therefore came as a godsend to several people and their families.
Conversely, Desert Joy firmly believes that people are very important to an organisation. Apart from the good primary employment conditions for its workforce, Desert Joy applied for Fairtrade certification for its tomatoes in 2013. The certificate was obtained in 2014, making Desert Joy the first tomato grower in the world to be internationally certified.
The extra income generated by the Fairtrade sales is used to fund a number of wonderful social projects for and by the employees of Desert Joy.
Click here for more information about Fairtrade tomatoes and the projects funded through these.