Agricultural sector feeds Tunisian economy

Published October 11th, 2009 - 01:40 GMT

Agricultural sector plays a key role in the Tunisian economy, as it ensures the food security of the country, based mainly on domestic production and is the main activity in several regions, according to London-based Global Arab Network (GAN) report.

Tunisia plans to set up a comprehensive strategy to promote bio farming. The Secretary is due to implemented by 2016.

Global Arab Network said that the strategy provides for extending areas of biological crops, especially after Tunisia’s inclusion in June 2009, in the list of countries exporting biological products to the European Union until 2012.

Thanks to the measures taken to promote the sector, Tunisia has increased the total areas of biological farming land from 16,000 hectares in 2001 to 285,000 hectares in 2008.

The report stressed the sector’s prospects in the region, particularly with regard to olive, forestry, pasture, fodder and fruit growing, as well as farmers’ increased interest in biological farming.

Since the promulgation of the 1999 law to organize the sector’s development, the State has granted incentives to encourage farmers to produce biological products and has also undertaken actions in training, retraining and development of scientific research so as to promote the production of biological farming, according to Global Arab Network.

It is expected that by 2011, the yield of bio farming products will reach 220 thousand tons.

Global Arab Network report said that Tunisia set up a development plan which provides the creation of an area of 122 hectares, three public schemes, and the equipment of 5 drillings to irrigate an area of 60 hectares, the completion in three years of 30 other medium-depth drillings to irrigate 300 acres and create 600 jobs in governorate of Gabes

The Minister of Agriculture and Water Resources Mr. Abdessalem Mansour enquired about a maintenance program of drinking water supply (3.3 MDT) and the project against the advance of sand over an area of 113 thousand hectares.

In “Zarkin”, the Minister announced the kick off gathering of pomegranate. The Production is estimated at 27 thousand tons, 20 thousand tons of which in the delegation of Mareth counts for 640 thousand pomegranate trees.

In Mahdia and Tabarka, two new projects have been set up to promote agriculture and fish farming.

The first project consists of the setting up of the technique known as the ‘floating cages’ technique in the coastal seaside resort of Mahdia as well as plan to rehabilitate the city’s ice factories.

The second project set up in Tabarka in the governorate  of Jendouba, is part of Tunisian-Italian  cooperation project involving the farming of mullets and eels, as well as the training and guidance of  technicians and rural families in the area to better exploit  fish species and  improve freshwater fish.

The expected cost of the project is estimated at 2.6 million dinars. The project also aims at boosting the fish- farming sector through the development of these species and the promotion of the consumption of freshwater fish in the north western  regions of Jendouba, Beja, Kef and Siliana.

According to Global Arab Network, the Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources has recently set up a call center available to farmers, developers, investors and all parties involved in promotional work.

The centre offers the main characteristics of each agricultural region as well as investment opportunities it offers .

In Sbiba (Governorate of Kasserine) which is known for its succulent apples,  and considered as the first apple producing area nationwide with an annual  production estimated at 38,000 tons this year.

Local authorities in collaboatation with the Tunisian Ministry of agriculture and water resources are also devising a plan to brand the Sbiba apple to increase its visibility on Arab and European markets.

Tunisian officials have stressed the importance of diversifying production methods with the aim of improving quality and competitiveness.

According to Global Arab Network, The Tunisian Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources has announced that the cereal producer prices are maintained at their current level.

The quintal of barley and triticale is being sold at 30 dinars, that of soft wheat at 35 dinars and that of durum wheat at 43 dinars. Despite the decrease in wheat prices on world market Prices will be maintained during the harvest period and up to August 31 and will be added to the exceptional subsidies.

The latter is estimated currently at 42.2 dinars for durum wheat, against 58 dinars in Tunisia, at 26.4 dinars for soft wheat against 45 dinars and 21.8 dinars for barley against 40 dinars.

Subsidies of sale prices of selected seeds of cereals will also be maintained at a rate of 25.4 dinars for durum wheat, 20.6 dinars for soft wheat and 17.15 dinars for barley and triticale.

The final sale price of selected seeds of cereals is fixed at 55 dinars per quintal for barley and triticale70 dinars per quintal for durum and 60 dinars per quintal for wheat.


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