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    Tunisia is a small country by North African standards, sandwiched between the much larger countries of Algeria to the west and Libya to the southeast. The northernmost country in Africa, Tunisia is bounded on the north and east by the Mediterranean. It covers an area of 163,610 km², measuring 1200 km from north to south and an average of 280 km from east to west. Northern Tunisia has a Mediterranean climate, with mild, rainy winters and hot, dry summers. Toward the south the climate becomes progressively hotter and drier.

    Agricultural sector

    Even though Tunisia is on its way to become a modern service economy, the agricultural sector is still of vital importance, contributing 12.6 % of GDP and employing almost one quarter of the country's labour force. Agricultural produce represents about 6 % of the country's export earnings. The main cereal crops are wheat and barley. Tunisian farmers grow olives, dates and fresh fruits for both export and domestic consumption. Meat (chicken, sheep and cattle) and vegetables (tomatoes and potatoes) represent important comestible goods as well. The main agricultural export is olive oil (FAO, 14.07.2006). The European Union is the country's principal trading partner (ITC, 10.09.2006).

    Overview of organic farming

    Organic agriculture is relatively new in Tunisia. However, in the last ten years, organic land area, number of farmers, and crop diversification increased rapidly. With 155,323 hectares under organic management, that represent 1.59 % of total agricultural area, Tunisia has now one of the most developed organic sectors in Africa (IFOAM & FiBL 2006). This favourable trend is largely due to an active government policy in the promotion of organic agriculture (IFOAM 2003). Since there is not yet a strong domestic demand market for organic products, most of the production is directed to the export market. Some of the farmers are producers and exporters at the same time.

    Key organic products

    About three quarters of organic land in Tunisia is dedicated to growing olives, many of which are processed into oil. Organic olive farmers receive a price premium ranging from 10 to 20 % relative to non-organic products (Twarog 2006). Other crops include dates, jojoba, almonds, fruits and vegetables, honey and aromatic plants (IFOAM 2003). In recent years, organic livestock husbandry in Tunisia has expanded significantly.

    The network

    Organic agriculture in Tunisia started in the eighties with private initiatives. However, the breakthrough came in the mid-nineties when the Tunisian government established a national strategy for the development of the organic sector. This program included the establishment of a national commission for organic agriculture (CTAB) and the provision of financial support. Over the first five years after conversion, organic farmers are eligible for financial help covering up to 30% of investment costs for equipment and 70% of certification costs (GTZ, 2003).

    Four certification bodies licensed by the Ministry of Agriculture are operating in Tunisia: ECOCERT, IMC, LACON and BCS. They comply with the IFOAM standards, EU regulations and Tunisian legislation.

    Centre Technique de l'Agriculture Biologique (CTAB)
    Coordinator: Mohamed Ben Kheder
    B.P. 54 Chott Mariem
    4042 Sousse, Tunisia
    Tel.: + 216 733 462 78 / 79
    Fax: + 216 733 462 77
    Email: ctab@iresa.agrinet.tn
    Website: www.ctab.nat.tn 

    External Support

    The Tunisia organic agriculture sector has been receiving support from the following external organisations amongst others:

    Capacity Building Task Force on Trade, Environment and Development (CBTF)
    International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movement (IFOAM)
    International Society for Organic Agriculture Research (ISOFAR)
    Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO)
    Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Bari (Italy)
    Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL - Germany)
    Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (Switzerland)
    Technical Institute of Organic Agriculture (France) 


    • FAO, 14.07.2006: Key Statistics of Food and Agriculture External Trade. Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Statistics Division. URL: www.fao.org/es/ess/toptrade/trade.asp?dir=exp&country=3&ryear=2004 and www.fao.org/es/ess/top/country.html?lang=en
    • IFOAM (2003): Organic and Like-Minded Movements in Africa. International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), Bonn, pp.102-108.
    • IFOAM & FiBL (2006): The World of Organic Agriculture. Statistics and Emerging Trends 2006. International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), Bonn & Research Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL, Frick, pp. 27-35.
    • ITC, 10.09.2006: TradeMap. Trade Statistics for International Business Development. International Trade Centre (ITC), Market Analysis Section.

    • Twarog, Sophia (2006): Organic Agriculture: A Trade and Sustainable Development Opportunity for Developing Countries. In: Trade and Environment Review 2006. United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Geneva.
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