In the city of Ramada (Governorate of Tataouine), a project to plant 130,000 olive trees on 100 hectares is now being carried out, says the regional director of the Promotion Agency for Agriculture, Moncef Bouchnak. An official of the TAP agency declared in a statement that the project adopted the technique of drip and intensive planting of olive trees with the use of foreign varieties, like the Spanish variety "Arbequina".
The news has driven many agriculturists and farmers to be indignant at the project for these following reasons:
Why not plant Tunisian olive trees?
Cultivating olives in Tunisia is done by heritage among small family farms representing 28% of the total area cultivated. Tunisia is the fourth producer of olive oil worldwide and it has 20% of the world olive acreage (COI, 2016), with a global market share estimated at 6% (COI, 2016). This makes Tunisia the largest producer and exporter of Olive oil in the Southern Mediterranean region.
Spanish Olive is not adapted to Tunisian climate:
Given the fact that the olive trees will be planted deep in the desert according to Moncef Bouchnak, "the project requires the drilling of 3 deep wells. The project requires huge amounts of water resources that the locals of the region can make better use of especially that many of them suffer from water shortage in their homes and the region in general. The Spanish variety "Arbequina" has a large drain on the water table compared to the Tunisian varieties.
The Production Intended For Export:
Moncef Bouchnak added that a large part of the production will be intended for export. Tunisia is ranked the third exporter worldwide especially to Italy and Spain and competing Spain with Spanish varieties is not exactly the smartest decision especially that Tunisian olive is already advantageous and making records over the past years.
All of these reasons make us questions thehidden agendas and the objectives of this 4.5 million dinars investment that many experts have predicted that is doomed to fail.