Tunisia Agriculture and Fishing Overview

Agriculture and fishing

Although agriculture’s share of the economy has largely declined in recent decades, it is still of great importance in the poorer parts of the country’s interior, where many rely on agriculture and livestock management. However, agricultural production varies widely from year to year depending on the amount of rainfall. Olive farms are especially important; Tunisia is one of the world’s largest producers and exporters of olive oil.

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Agriculture is practiced on almost one third of Tunisia’s surface. But it looks different between the regions. Wheat, barley, oats, corn and sorghum are grown in the rainy northern parts. On the Cap Bon Peninsula there are citrus cultivations and grapes are grown around Tunis and Bizerte. Livestock farming, which is of great importance to the agricultural sector, is mainly conducted in the hinterland, and in the desert areas in the south, dates are grown in the oases.

Olive oil accounts for a large part of food exports. Other important agricultural products are milk, tomatoes, dates, citrus fruits and cereals.

Tunisia is one of the largest exporting countries in terms of dates, which UNESCO 2019, on the proposal of Arab countries, classified as a world heritage site. The dates have a given place both as staple goods and on the banquet tables during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. They are also found in a variety of popular varieties, which means that they are both exported and imported irrespective of whether a country has large own crops. Tunisia is one of the countries forced to fight a pest insect originating in Asia, the red palm worm that attacks date crops (but also coconut and oil palm). For Tunisia defense and foreign policy, please check prozipcodes.

Agricultural production also varies widely from year to year depending on the water supply. In 2010, agriculture was hit by particularly severe drought, which led to lower harvests and poorer growth. In order to protect against these problems, Tunisia has invested in increased irrigation, but this is still only found in a fraction of all cultivated land, although the proportion has increased in recent years.

Agricultural production has grown sharply in recent decades. Nowadays, Tunisia is normally self-sufficient with dairy products, fruits and vegetables. The goal is to be self-sufficient also with grain. But a considerable part of the grain consumed has yet to be imported.

The regime has tried to strengthen agriculture, among other things, by writing off some of the farmers’ debts and lowering taxes. Grain production has been subsidized by the state and received special support. A major problem is that the farms are small, which prevents more efficient farming methods. Another obstacle to the development of agriculture has been the difficulty in obtaining loans for investment.

Fish is Tunisia’s second most important export product in the food sector, but catches have dropped significantly due to depletion. A modernization of fishing methods has subsequently increased catches slightly. Sardines and mackerel are among the most commonly caught fish species.

An invasive species of crab harms the catches of Tunisian fishermen. The crab, which belongs to the Red Sea, appeared in 2014 and in Arabic has been given the same nickname as the Islamic State terror group because it “destroys everything”. The crab was first described by Linnaeus in the 18th century and was called Portunus pelagicus. In 2017, the Tunisian government launched a plan that goes to fishermen to learn new methods, so that catching the crab itself becomes a source of income. The catch is also purchased with the help of government subsidies and is being developed into export goods.

Government forestry projects have been supported by nature conservation organizations and are carried out to some extent by volunteers. One purpose of planting trees is to reduce erosion and desertification. The area of ​​forest and bush land has increased, the goal is to make up ten percent of Tunisia’s area by 2024. Among other things, olive trees, palm trees and conifers are planted in the form of fast growing alpine numbers.


Agriculture’s share of GDP

9.5 percent (2017)

Percentage of land used for agriculture

64.8 percent (2016)

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Tunisia Agriculture and Fishing