Description of project

Mediterranean Ancestral Bridge of the sheep supply chain
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Description of the breed "Noir de Thibar"

Noir de Thibar or Thibar (m. n.). Etymology: from Thibar, name of the place, west of Tunis, Tunisia. Definition: sheep breed from the northern coast of Tunisia, mixed, for meat and wool.

This breed, officially recognised in 1945, lives in Tunisia and the Middle East. It was created, starting from 1911, on the estate of the White Fathers St. Joseph of Thibar, in the Medjerda basin, the ancient "granary of Rome", 21 km from Beja, in Tunisia. In the first generation, two types of crosses were made by brother Novat: - Black Merino mutton from Arles (from Crau) x Algerian thin-tailed sheep - pure Merino sheepskin x black Algerian sheep. Then, the selection was made on the black colour (9 years), then on the wool by inbreeding, and was accompanied by a rational diet. In the 1970s, the blood of the Brown-black sheep breed from Switzerland was infused. The breed is booming in the northwest and east of Tunisia.

Description: this sheep, an animal for slaughter, of medium size (adult weight 65.1 ± 8.7 kg), has a thin tail and coarse wool. The black colouring of the skin has been studied to combat photosensitization ("Hamra") which have light coloured local breeds that feed on St. John's wort. The elongated head has a full, sub-concave, hornless forehead. The ears, thin, are horizontal or slightly erect. The trunk is almost cylindrical. The limbs are thin. The skin and mucous membranes are pigmented. The black fleece leaves only the head, the throat, the inner part of the tail and the perineum uncovered.

Systems - aptitudes: first of all wool and meat production. The prolificacy can reach 140%.

- C. Meyer, ed. sc., Dictionnaire des Sciences Animales. [On line]. Montpellier, France, Cirad. [09/2013]. Article: Mouton Noir de Thibar. - C. Meyer, Bernard Faye, H. Karembe, J.-P. Poivey, F. Deletang, P. Hivorel, A. Benkidane, J. Berrada, D. Mohammedi, S. Gharzaouani, Guide de l’élevage du mouton méditerranéen et tropical, Ceva Santé Animale, Libourne, 2004, page 20, article: Mouton Noir de Thibar.

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Description of Project

The objective of JESMED is to support entrepreneurship in the sheep farming sector in Tunisia and in Italy by improving and enhancing a quality brand for sheep meat, thanks to the enhancement of the experience of the Italian partners of the Sicilian Region in the areas of the enhancement of alternative food resources, the evaluation of the nutritional and sensory characteristics of the products, the preparation of traceability systems, the certification and control for labelled products and in communication.

The skills of the various Tunisian partners, in terms of knowledge of the production systems, of the characteristics of the Noir de Thibar (NT) meat, of the certification and organisation of the supply chains, would allow to exchange production methods and to integrate the know- how of breeders and other subjects operating in the sheep industry.

Furthermore, the experience of the previous partnership (HILFTRAD project) will allow to consolidate and guarantee the sustainability of the cooperation established between the partners of the two cross-border regions. The proposed actions will allow the promotion of ecotourism, the creation of operators for certification and quality control and the stipulation of marketing contracts. In Sicily there are no protection marks for sheep meat.

The experience of this project will represent a model for the enhancement of dairy lamb and light Sicilian lamb, and of Halal meat, also in light of the territorial proximity and environmental similarities of the cross-border area.

For two decades Tunisia has encouraged the creation of mutual societies of services for agriculture (Law 2005-94) and this project will create one, made up of various stakeholders operating in the NT sheep sector, which will guarantee the activities necessary for the organisation of the supply chain and the marketing of the labelled meats.

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Cooperation between the control structures and the production fabric of the Tunisian and Italian sheep meat sector is important for the development of this supply chain in the regions affected by the project. Considering the climatic and geographical similarities between the regions of the Sicilian and Tunisian shores, the Italian experience in the evaluation of alternative food resources, in certification and quality control, in communication and marketing, and the know-how of Tunisian breeders and sheep farming, and the skills that will be acquired through this project in the certification of products of animal origin, the sheep meat supply chain of the two countries will benefit from the results of the project and from the sharing of the experience of the cross-border partners.

The Tunisian know-how in terms of sheep meat protection could be interesting for the Italian territory involved in the project, representing a model applicable to the future enhancement of its own productions, while the Italian know-how will be enhanced for the establishment of a mutual company responsible for traceability, quality control and marketing of the labelled product. Cross-border collaboration, in fact, aims to make it possible to exchange knowledge on the use of alternative food resources in sheep feeding; to organise the slaughtering chain; to identify the NT sheep meat supply chain; the development of a traceability system will allow the creation of a technical and organisational package for the labelling of sheep meat. Thanks to the results of the project, the Noir de Thibar sheep meat will represent, in Tunisia, one of the first products of animal origin that will benefit from a distinctive quality mark. In terms of innovation, the development of agricultural supply chains through the promotion of local products will contribute to the development of the agricultural sector, the improvement of living conditions of rural populations and the reduction of poverty, generating additional opportunities. In this context, the project is innovative for several reasons: it provides direct support to the organisation of producers through innovative actions, in particular the consolidation of the GDAEBN (Group of Agricultural Development of Northern Sheep Breeders); the creation of a SMSA (Mutual Society of Services for Agriculture) which operates according to the cooperative model; the development of a network of Tunisian and Sicilian operators in the sheep meat supply chain and the development of tools, know-how and knowledge highly useful for the promotion of employment and the creation of valid and sustainable economic entities. Communication, marketing, product promotion and market development techniques for certified sheep meat will also be a resource for the supply chain and for future economic operators. The training and updating of skills at different levels of the Noir de Thibar meat production chain will have a positive and undeniable impact on the production, processing, marketing and consumption of labelled sheep meat.

The actions of the project will be allocated and used by different target groups which will build on the results directly and will form the transmitters and multipliers to final beneficiaries, thus contributing to the sustainability of the project results. These target groups are mainly represented by:
  • public and private structures operating in the field of professional training in agriculture and dissemination and supervision in the sectors of sheep breeding and meat trade. This group will benefit from theoretical and practical training actions having as their object new and innovative knowledge on the management and conduct of farming, hygiene, slaughter, cutting, processing and marketing of sheep meat in general and, in particular , of the labelled meats;
  • direct processors of Noir de Thibar labelled lamb meat. These are restaurateurs and technicians who work in the meat departments of supermarkets and cutting units. They will receive training focused on sheep carcass classification, cutting techniques, meat quality parameters and marketing techniques;
  • representatives of slaughterhouses and veterinary services in the province of Catania (Sicily). They will receive training on the Halal slaughter technique and the process of creating a Halal label to meet the needs of the Muslim community in the area and open up to export markets for sheep meat in countries that require this product.
In addition to these training courses, the target groups will benefit from all the communication activities of the project, a part of which will be specifically dedicated to them. The production of sheep meat in the cross-border area is characterised by a low diversification that fails to satisfy a varied and increasingly exigent demand in terms of product quality. The JESMED project will help to meet this demand by providing substantial support to stakeholders in the different links of the sheep meat production chain. The final beneficiaries of the project are represented by all the stakeholders of the various links of the certified sheep meat supply chain and in particular:
  • sheep breeders of the NT breed. Initially, these are the breeders of the GDAEBN (Agricultural Development Group of Northern Sheep Breeders) and the SMSA, then all the breeders who join these structures and adopt the rational management approach in order to obtain a labelled product. Thanks to the added value generated by the marketing of labelled meat, farmers’ income will increase, their living conditions will improve and their ability to invest will increase;
  • consumers of sheep meat in Tunisia who will find, thanks to the results of the project, diversified products, including quality meat that responds to a specific need;
  • consumers of sheep meat in Tunisia who will find, thanks to the results of the project, diversified products, including quality meat that responds to a specific need;
  • service companies operating in the different links of the labelled sheep meat production chain (supervision and monitoring of producers, logistics and services for production, slaughter and cutting, marketing, supply of inputs, analysis and controls).
The actions and results of the JESMED project constitute a model that can be duplicated and transferred to other products, to new producers in the project area or outside it. The methodology, the approach, most of the actions for the labelling of the meat of the local Noir de Thibar sheep breed could be used for the labelling of the meat of other breeds in other regions, making small adjustments. Similarly, the communication and marketing techniques that will be developed and applied in this project could be exploited in other projects of a similar nature. Dissemination of the results through all communication activities will make it possible to publicise the results and create new possibilities for cooperation around these results.