TUNISIA – The upcoming citrus harvest in Tunisia is anticipated to yield 360,000 tons in 2023/2024, signaling a noteworthy rebound from the prior season’s diminished output, primarily attributed to persistent drought.

Imed El Bey, President of the Nabeul Regional Union of Agriculture and Fisheries and member of the interprofessional citrus group, disclosed this optimistic projection on November 14.

This anticipated yield represents a substantial 25% increase from the preceding campaign, which faced a significant 16% decline, dwindling to 290,000 tons due to ongoing drought conditions.

The Cap Bon region, recognized as the primary fruit-growing hub, is expected to account for over 74% of the estimated production.

While this surge signals positivity for the industry, the foremost challenge for stakeholders will revolve around the size of the harvested fruits.

El Bey emphasized that approximately 50% of the total citrus harvest is likely to comprise small-sized fruits, with only 20% meeting commercial size and 30% categorized as medium-sized.

“Addressing fruit size improvement, especially for exports, is critical to optimizing the value and overall quality of our harvest,” highlighted El Bey.

The prior season witnessed Tunisian citrus exports totaling 7,604 tons, generating €7.38 million (USD 8.06 millon), reflecting a 34% volume drop and an 8.7% value decrease compared to the previous campaign. However, despite this uptick, fruit size remains a pivotal challenge, notably impacting exports.

Citrus production in Tunisia stands as a significant fruit crop alongside dates. In 2021, according to a Statista report, citrus production was forecast at 410,000 metric tons, showing growth compared to the previous year.

“The segment plays a vital role in Tunisia’s agricultural landscape, with approximately 29,000 hectares dedicated to citrus trees,” outlines the report.

Tunisia’s major export destinations for citrus fruits encompass France, Libya, Kuwait, and Qatar. Recognizing the global appeal of Tunisian citrus, there’s a call for heightened efforts within the interprofessional sector to modernize the citrus industry, spanning production to marketing.

Persistent investment in enhancing fruit size holds the potential to fortify Tunisia’s position as a prominent global citrus supplier.

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