Japan Extends Joint Research with Tunisia

A Japan-Tunisia collaboration will continue until 2021 with a focus on the development of food, cosmetic and pharmaceutical products.

Olive trees in Tunisia
Jun. 9, 2017
By Isabel Putinja
Olive trees in Tunisia

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Japan will con­tinue to invest in the Tunisian olive oil sec­tor until 2021 fol­low­ing the first stage of stud­ies under­taken by a team of Japanese and Tunisian researchers.

The stud­ies were real­ized through a Japanese gov­ern­ment pro­gram that pro­motes inter­na­tional joint research con­ducted by three Japanese research insti­tu­tions (University of Tsukuba, Kyoto University, and Tokyo Institute of Technology) in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Tunisian researchers at the Center of Biotechnology of Sfax.

The SATREPS pro­gram is a col­lab­o­ra­tive effort between three Japanese gov­ern­ment agen­cies: the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST), the Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development, and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

One of the stud­ies revealed that all vari­eties of Tunisian olive oil, espe­cially an olive vari­ety from the north, are rich in polyphe­nols and con­tain often 10 times more than Italian and Spanish olive oils. Polyphenols are micronu­tri­ents rich in nat­ural antiox­i­dants which have numer­ous health ben­e­fits and can help pre­vent dis­ease and ill­nesses.


The Tunisian project is slated to con­tinue until 2021 under the title Valorization of Bio-resources based on Scientific Evidence in Semi- and Arid Land for Creation of New Industry” with a total bud­get of 7.83 mil­lion Tunisian dinars ($3.21 mil­lion) granted by JICA.

By apply­ing the results of the stud­ies con­cluded dur­ing the first stage of the project first launched in 2009, the next stage will focus on the devel­op­ment of food, cos­metic and phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal prod­ucts, the devel­op­ment of a pro­duc­tion-to-export chain, and the pro­mo­tion of exports of high value-added agri­cul­tural prod­ucts which includes the launch of a Tunisian olive oil label in Japan.

Tunisia has a long tra­di­tion of olive oil pro­duc­tion but the vast major­ity of its oil is exported in bulk, with Italy, Spain, United States, and France being its largest importers. The gov­ern­ment aims to sig­nif­i­cantly increase exports of refined olive oil over the next five years, but pro­duc­tion and export fig­ures have been in decline for the first part of 2017.


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