Documenting all of the olive orchards in the Mediterranean Basin.

Orchard of the Azaiez Family

Where: El Hencha, Tunisia (Sfax region)

Hectares: 4.0

Olive trees: 460

Primary cultivars: Chemlali (60 trees), Koroneiki (400)

Single or multiple orchards: Single

In the administrative district of El Hencha in southern-east Tunisia (40 km from the City of Sfax) is an olive orchard of four hectares owned by the Azaiez family.

The family purchased the orchard in May 2023 from the Jmal family.

Initially, on the orchard were 60 olive trees of the Chemlali variety—one of the two popular cultivars in Tunisia. (the other popular cultivar is Chetoui) The family has since planted 400 Koroneiki trees, a variety popular and indigenous to Greece.

“The roots can reach 22 to 24 [metres],” an Azaiez family member said of the incumbent Chemlali trees. Therefore, what they did after acquiring the orchard is planted the 400 new Koroneiki trees because their proximity can be closer together and can produce olives for olive oil within three years of planting. During the visit, olives were observed already on at least one of the Koroneiki trees.

“It’s my second job,” A family member shared about how his vocation and passions have combined. “I love making agriculture during the weekend.”

The family member further noted that the Chemlali trees are very resistant to dry weather, not needing irrigation and are suitable for organic (biologique) farming. The Koroneiki trees will require irrigation and fertilization to keep particular insects away from hindering their fertility and to ensure adequate hydration.

The Azaiez family cited that they plan to produce Extra Virgin Olive Oil out of future harvests—Organic EVOO of the Chemlali trees. At the current time they don’t plan to bottle and brand the olive oil, but instead, sell it privately to buyers.

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