Horri Ridha is an exporter of canned tomato. He has just made the discovery of the Cameroonian market hailing its «favourable methods of work” after gaining other markets in sub-Saharan Africa. Interview :
Could you outline your objectives for the Cameroon market, especially since you are already exporting to other countries?
It is true that we are exporting to many countries, but we always aim to be involved in what is new and we are always trying to conquer new markets to ensure the flow of our production and to ensure the presence of Tunisian products in different markets. In doing so, we find out that the Cameroonian market is quite large and important. We want to sell more products and subsequently increase visits to this country, so that the dream of businessmen of both countries, namely partnership comes true.
To which countries you already exporting?
We export to Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso, Sudan, Yemen, Dubai. Currently our turnover in Africa is not yet very important, it is 3 million Euros. This figure is only a start, because our exports have not improved after the EU has eliminated subsidies on products of its members. That helps make our products even more competitive .
Currently, Italy for example, no longer produces more tomatoes, because of rising costs, they now opt for imports from China. They import 200 pounds containers, and then Italy exports to markets targeted by Tunisians and does it at lower prices. This shows that the margin is still important for them!
Probably because the Tunisian consumer does not consume tomato and Chinese prefer to consume Tunisian?
We can say what we want, but tomato is tomato. And even with this possibility, we might get over it. Tomato under temporary admission should not be consumed in Tunisia, it could be re-exported, why not find a market in Africa and not take advantage, just because the production of Tunisia tomato is not enough? It is expensive to travel with a delegation. The State and Cepex spend much money for such delegations, but when we reach the market, we find out that we are facing declining production. We must import and export at the same time not to lose markets, and so, we can develop our production.
We learned that in Libya, you’ll buy a factory with a Libyan partner. Do not you think that this will be negative, especially with the existence of quotas for you, exporters? Is this quota sufficient so that you get the plant with Libyan partner?
When the Libyan market sets quotas for Tunisian exporters, it is unthinkable that the Libyan market is a game in the hands of the Tunisians. Libyans do not depend on us, and they import from other markets.
Regarding this factory, which is due to be launched in association with a Libyan partner, do you plan to operate it through Tunisian products?
No, this plant will be supplied with Chinese products. These products will be 100% Chinese. And I will try to teach Libyans how to deal with this type of farming and even export Tunisian greenhouses facilities. I have started doing it last year, hoping that in the future and with the start of this new plant, I will be able to encourage Libyan domestic farming.
Did you set up a company?
We have done nothing yet.. He offered me 50% of the venture where I have to focus on technical matters. I will join this venture only through with my know-how.
My company has always been pioneer in Tunisia with regard to production contracts. But after concluding the contracts for two or three years, we discovered the existence of a set of deficiencies to be remedied in order to catch up.