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Market for edible flowers blossoms in Tunisia

A Tunisian entrepreneur growing edible flowers says she is surprised by the appetite for her homegrown product in the North African country and hopes to see a "new culinary culture" bloom.

Sonia Ibidhi, a 42-year-old journalist, turned to organic farming of the niche but in-demand product "out of love" for working on the land.

Among the flowers she grows are borage, a blue star-shaped flower that tastes like cucumber, chive flowers -- purple blossoms with a flavour similar to onion -- and nasturtiums, bright yellow to orange flowers with a radish-like taste.

"I thought the flowers would be for export and of no immediate interest to the local market, but I've been surprised by the growing demand, in particular from some top-end hotels," she said.

After bringing back 42 seed varieties from France, Ibidhi began planting around a dozen types of flowers.

She said she chose the mountainous Tabarka region in the country's northwest for its humid climate and abundant fresh water, and now uses her own seeds. "I do something that I love, that is beautiful and colourful," she said proudly. She said she hoped her flowers would spark "a new culinary culture in the country".

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