Tunisian Olive Oil Production Falls to 23 Percent Below Five-Year Average

Low rainfall levels in the winter and spring, frequent heat waves and the unrelenting drought were attributed to the production drop.

Oct. 12, 2022
By Daniel Dawson

Recent News

Olive oil pro­duc­tion in Tunisia is expected to reach 200,000 tons in the 2022/23 crop year, a decrease of 15 per­cent com­pared to last year, accord­ing to the coun­try’s National Olive Oil Board.

Last year, Tunisia pro­duced 240,000 tons of olive oil, accord­ing to the International Olive Council. Over the past half-decade, the North African coun­try has yielded an aver­age of 257,000 tons per annum.

Officials at the National Observatory of Agriculture (Onagri) blamed a lack of rain­fall in cen­tral and south­ern Tunisia, drought, heat­waves and many pro­duc­ers enter­ing an off-year’ in the nat­ural alter­nate bear­ing cycle of the olive tree for the pro­duc­tion decrease.

See Also:Rising Prices Expose Untapped Potential for Tunisian Exports

However, pro­duc­tion drops were not expe­ri­enced uni­formly across the coun­try’s main olive-grow­ing regions. While the major­ity expe­ri­enced pro­duc­tion declines, sev­eral enjoyed bumper crops.

This year, olive grow­ers in Sfax expect to har­vest about 70,000 tons of olives, sig­nif­i­cantly below the aver­age of pre­vi­ous years.

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Meanwhile, in Monastir, offi­cials antic­i­pate the olive har­vest to be 65 per­cent lower than last year. Producers in the small coastal region of the coun­try located north of Sfax will pick 20,000 tons of olives which will pro­duce 4,000 tons of olive oil.

Mounira Gharbi Sahloul, an offi­cial at the Regional Commissariat for Agricultural Development, blamed the lack of rain in the win­ter and spring for the stark decline.

Like much of the rest of the Mediterranean basin, Tunisia is also expe­ri­enc­ing a severe drought. According to Onagri, reser­voirs are at 33 per­cent capac­ity on a national level.

In some of the largest olive-pro­duc­ing regions in the cen­ter of the coun­try, this fig­ure falls to just under 21 per­cent. Reservoir capac­ity in the north sits a bit higher at nearly 43 per­cent.

In west­ern Tunisia, olive grow­ers from Gafsa expect to har­vest about 50,000 tons of olives, which they would trans­form into 12,000 tons of olive oil, for the sec­ond con­sec­u­tive year.

However, Abdel-Sattar Ghabtan, an offi­cial at the Regional Commissariat for Agricultural Development, said the har­vest would begin later than usual due to the lack of rain.

Meanwhile, grow­ers in Gabès, south of Sfax, antic­i­pate a sharp increase, with pro­duc­tion ris­ing to 60,000 tons of olives com­pared to 31,500 tons last year.

In Sidi Bouzid, directly west of Sfax, pro­duc­ers also expect a bumper crop. Growers esti­mate that olive pro­duc­tion will exceed 190,000 tons this year, an increase of 40,000 tons com­pared to last year.

In north­east­ern Tunisia, offi­cials in the region of Nabeul said they will har­vest 58,000 tons of olives this year, a 4‑percent increase from last year.

In north-cen­tral Tunisia, pro­duc­ers from La Manouba antic­i­pate this year’s olive har­vest to fall by 13 per­cent com­pared to last year. The small region will pro­duce 8,700 tons of olives, which is expected to yield 1,750 tons of olive oil.

Just to the north, in Bizerete, pro­duc­ers have pre­dicted a smaller har­vest as well and expect to pick 18,000 tons of olives, which is expected to yield 3,600 tons of olive oil. Last year, the region pro­duced 24,000 tons of olives.



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