Olive trees are being cultivated in Tunisia to help support their growing production trend..

The Tunisian Ministry of Agriculture has pre­dicted that olive oil pro­duc­tion will reach 350,000 tons this sea­son. If their fore­cast proves to be cor­rect, Tunisia could find itself for the sec­ond time the world’s sec­ond largest oil pro­ducer after Spain.

The olive sea­son 2019/​20, which will start in November, seems to be promis­ing.- Chokri Bayoudh, CEO of Tunisia’s National Olive Oil Board

At a press brief­ing hosted by the Ministry of Agriculture, Water Resources and Fisheries last Friday, Chokri Bayoudh, CEO of the National Olive Oil Board (ONH), said, “the olive sea­son 2019/​20, which will start in November, seems to be promis­ing.” He also hinted that based on pre­lim­i­nary indi­ca­tors the olive har­vest could exceed the coun­try’s annual aver­age.

Bayoudh announced that Tunisia’s olive oil pro­duc­tion had reached 140,000 tons dur­ing the 2018/​2019 sea­son, with exports account­ing for 117,000 tons and gen­er­at­ing rev­enue of around 1.58 bil­lion dinars ($550 mil­lion).

See more: The Best Olive Oils from Tunisia

He also spoke of the pre­ven­ta­tive mea­sures taken by the ONH against olive pests in prepa­ra­tion for the sea­son, which included the treat­ment of two mil­lion saplings. He added that a forth­com­ing ONH meet­ing would con­cen­trate on the nec­es­sary steps for a suc­cess­ful har­vest and focus on ways to improve the qual­ity con­trol of olive oil, fur­ther reg­u­late the mar­ket and ease access to funds for pro­duc­ers and exporters.

Bayoudh acknowl­edged efforts made by the gov­ern­ment to sup­port Tunisia’s olive oil indus­try. These included the plant­ing of mil­lions of olive trees in a drive to main­tain Tunisia’s rank­ing as one of the world’s lead­ing oil pro­duc­ing coun­tries.

Lack of man­power for olive har­vest­ing dur­ing Tunisia’s rel­a­tively short (November to March) sea­son was cited by Bayoudh as one of the coun­try’s major chal­lenges.

A bumper olive har­vest would be a ray of light for the North African coun­try, which was thrown into a height­ened state of polit­i­cal tur­moil by the recent death of its 92-​year-​old pres­i­dent Beji Caid Essebsi, who was the coun­try’s first demo­c­ra­t­i­cally elected pres­i­dent.

Essebi hosted the ‘Tunisia 2020’ con­fer­ence on his 90th birth­day in an attempt to claw back inter­na­tional invest­ment, which plum­meted when for­eign com­pa­nies left Tunisia in droves as a result of the fre­quent protests and sit-​ins fol­low­ing the 2011 Jasmine rev­o­lu­tion.

Tunisia 2020 focused on rais­ing funds for two major olive oil projects with invest­ment sought for the plant­ing of over 10,000 hectares (24,710 acres) of olive trees and the con­struc­tion of mod­ern pro­cess­ing and pack­ag­ing units, which would cre­ate much-​needed jobs in some of the coun­try’s most deprived regions.

In 2017/​18, Tunisia pro­duced 280,000 tons of olive oil, an increase of 180 per­cent on the pre­vi­ous year’s dis­mal out­put, which had fallen by 55 per­cent to a mere 180,000 tons, with exports total­ing just 70,000 tons.

Back in 2014, Tunisia was for the first time ever ranked as the world’s second-​largest olive oil-​producing coun­try after yield­ing an abun­dant 340,000 tons, which marked a 485-​percent rise against the pre­vi­ous year’s out­put.


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