Africa / Middle East

Tunisia Predicts a Bumper Olive Harvest

A strong season would be a ray of light for the North African country, which has been thrown into a heightened state of political turmoil by the recent death of president Beji Caid Essebsi.

Olive trees are being cultivated in Tunisia to help support their growing production trend..
Aug. 8, 2019
By Julie Al-Zoubi
Olive trees are being cultivated in Tunisia to help support their growing production trend..

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.