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Dutch tomatoes flourish in the Tunisian desert

Dutch businessman Philip van Antwerpen runs a successful tomato farm in the Tunisian desert, called Desert Joy. In an interview with the NABC, he gives an update on how business is going, and why they opted for Tunisia.

"We chose Tunisia because we found an already existing company here, that was growing here and used geothermal heating during the cold desert nights. It also re-uses water, in nice greenhouses. So we opted for Tunisia.

"We started 7 years ago with 2.5 hectare, and a bit of (PSI) subsidy from the Dutch government. Now we are at 20 hectares, and 600 staff members. We have enough water, because there is a large aquifer (water deep in the ground) just below Tunisia, Algeria and Libya.

"Desert Joy is part of AgroCare, and we sell our cherry tomatoes through a cooperative called Harvest House. Products can end up in Dutch supermarket chains like Hoogvliet and Deen, as well as in Germany, the UK, Scandinavia and Poland. It is sold under our fair trade certificate. They normally come in round plastic containers. In Holland they are known as ‘snoeptomaatjes.’"

Philip still sees a lot of room for growth. "In total I think there is 100 hectares of the type of horticulture we do, while in Spain you’d have tens of thousands of hectares. Desert Joy shall soon add another 5 hectares to our farm."


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