TUNISIA – Tunisia is planning to increase the cultivated area of rapeseed to 140,000 hectares from the current 15,000 hectares over the next 7 years to boost local supply.
The ambitious rapeseed development strategy is being spearheaded by the Tunisian Union of Agriculture and Fisheries (UTAP) in partnership with Carthage Grains.
Tunisia is the largest producer of olive oil outside the EU, and the 4th largest in the world but local supply of the commodity is constrained due to a greater focus on exports.
In Market Year 2022/23, Tunisia is forecasted to export 135,000 Metric Tonnes of Olive Oil, which is roughly 79% of the country’s total production, according to USDA figures.
Among the locals, soybean oil is most popular for household consumption while palm oil is not well perceived by consumers and is generally limited to the food manufacturing sector
As the country is not fully self-reliant on either of these two commodities, it mostly relies on imports.
According to Statista, Tunisia imported vegetable oils reaching a value of over 532 million Tunisian dinars (approximately 196 million U.S. dollars) in 2019, an increase of 10.8% compared to the previous year.
In MY2022/23, USDA forecasts Tunisia to import 125,000MT of soybean and 66,000MT of palm oil to meet demand in the local market.
To ensure a sufficient local supply of edible oil UTAP has identified cultivation of rapeseed as a viable alternative to olive oils that are highly sought after in the international market.
UTAP and Carthage Gains plan to support this goal by setting up a training program with a view to improving the profitability of farms in the various production areas that have favorable conditions for growing rapeseed.
However, the lack of rainfall has been identified as the main obstacle to the development of oilseed cultivation.
To overcome the challenges, Maher Affes, the managing director of Carthage Grain indicated they have laid down possible interventions that will use a technique dubbed ‘cloud seeding”.
Maher said that the technique consists of modifying the structure of clouds with aerosols in such a way as to increase the probability of precipitation.
He added that the pilot experiment will be launched starting in March to test the applicability of the technique. “Other experiments will be carried out in other regions,” the official said.