Tunis/Tunisia — Tunisia aims to export about 80 thousand tonnes of stone fruit mainly to Libya, France and Italy in 2021, said acting Director General of the Interprofessional Group of Fruits (GIFruits) Helmi Kalai.
He added in an interview with TAP that the export season of stone fruit began in April 2021 to the Italian, French and Russian markets and that the production of stone fruit is estimated at about 284,000 tonnes, up 7% compared to last season.
The Governorate of Ben Arous occupies the first rank in domestic fruit production, followed by Kairouan, Sidi Bouzid, then Manouba and Beja.
The fruit production sector in Tunisia represents about 30% of the overall value of agricultural production and contributes to the export of more than 11% of total farm production to foreign markets. It also attracts about 15% of the total workforce and 51% of the seasonal workforce.
Regarding peaches and nectarines, this season's production is estimated at about 152,000 tonnes, an increase of 11% over the previous season.
Apricot and plum production amounted to 28,000 tonnes and 18,000 tonnes, respectively, (with a rise of 6% compared to last season).
Dry almonds output is estimated at 65.7 thousand tonnes (up 5% compared to last season), while cherries' production should reach about 7900 tonnes with the governorate of Siliana providing about 95% of the domestic production of this fruit.
Kalai said the past season saw a remarkable decline in the quantities exported, especially to Libya, which accounts for about 70% of the quantities of Tunisian fruit, due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and the closure of land and air borders with this country.
He added that Tunisia has also been impacted by the increase in international air freight rates which has led to the decline in sales of fruit to the Gulf market (peaches and apricots).