Tunisia is expected to witness a promising olive harvest season this year with olive oil production reaching 350,000 tons, the Ministry of Agriculture has announced.
These prospects would make Tunisia the world’s second top oil producer after Spain, having for years been among the top five, competing with Spain, Italy, Greece and Portugal.
Director General of Tunisia’s National Olive Oil Board, Chokri Bayoudh, said that during its recent meetings, the Board discussed mechanisms to support the quality and control the production of olive oil, further adjust the market and facilitate the access of exporters of olive oil and producers to state funding.
The government continues to support the development of the industry by planting millions of olive trees to ensure Tunisia stays among the top international producers. However, there remain several obstacles, namely lack of workers in olive harvesting which usually runs for a short period between November and March.
Last year, Tunisia’s olive oil production dropped to 140,000 tons, 117,000 of which were exported with a value of about $526 million, compared to a record high in 2017.
During recent years, Tunisia's olive oil production reached 185,000 tons, however, it is expected to improve in the coming years to reach 230,000 tons at an annual rate. This will place Tunisia at a leading position among major international olive oil producers.
The Tunisian olive oil production is a major contributor to the economy’s stabilization. Reduced olive oil exports have affected the food trade, which was about $226 million during the first half of the year.
Production has improved globally this season among the largest producing countries except for Spain, showed figures.
Tunisia’s National Observatory of Agriculture (ONAGRI) announced that olive oil production in Spain will reach 1.35 million tons during the coming season, compared to 1.77 million tons in the previous season.
ONAGRI also noted that production in Italy will reach 270,000 tons and Greece 300,000 tons, marking an improvement compared to the previous season, and the rate in Portugal will reach 130,000 tons. These countries are among the most competitive with Tunisian olive oil in international markets.