Dates sector in Tunisia will face more internal and external challenges (AOAD study) | Tunisia News Gazette

Dates sector in Tunisia will face more internal and external challenges (AOAD study)

A study conducted by the Arab Organization for Agricultural Development (AOAD) revealed that the dates sector in Tunisia will face, over the next decade, several internal challenges of which essentially an excess in production on the local market, besides the coincidence of the date collection period with the month of Ramadan from the year 2025.

The study was presented at a workshop on the development of the palm sector in the Maghreb region, organised from May 2 to 4, 2018 in Tunis, at the initiative of the AOAD, in association with the Ministry of Agriculture, Water Resources and Fisheries and with the participation of representatives of the components of the value chain of the date palm in the different Maghreb countries (Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia).

Among the external challenges of the date chain, the study mentions the self-sufficiency of the Moroccan market which used to import half of its needs from Tunisia.

Tunisia will lose its position on the Moroccan market which is currently preparing to plant one million palm trees under the “Green Morocco” programme, says the study, adding that Morocco aims to achieve self-sufficiency by 2025.

Competition from Algerian dates (Deglet Nour) is another challenge that Tunisia faces, especially since Algerian dates production has accelerated growth to reach 850 thousand tonnes in 2014, against 427 thousand tonnes in 1999, said the study.

Imports from the European market has stagnated (Tunisia occupies 37% of the European market).

The same study noted that the Indian market imports 36% of its date requirements from Tunisia whereas Tunisia’s share in the Asian market does not exceed 3%.

It has also revealed that the date chain in Tunisia is facing structural problems in production: fragmentation of the property, production based on the Deglet Nour variety and the aging of more than a million palm trees.

The study tackled the problems of the continuous rise in the cost of production and the difficulties hampering agricultural mechanisation within the old oases. These also include the weakness of financial resources of small farmers, the rate of supervision, the lack of guidance on the ground and technical references to new technologies in addition to the misuse of natural resources.

The document recommends the establishment of an action programme aimed at improving production, productivity and quality.

The authors call on farmers to join agricultural service co-operatives and to adopt agricultural mechanisation to control the cost of production, in addition to the diversification of early varieties that can be easily sold in the domestic market.

With regard to quality improvement, the document calls for greater value for the product through granting quality standards (organic and geographical production).

Tunisia currently has 6 million palm trees producing 62% of the variety “Deglet Nour” and 38% of other varieties, and the average production has reached 201 thousand tonnes in the last decade.

Source: TAP News Agency

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