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Agriculture has a leading position in the Tunisian economy. The farming sector employs 26 % of the working population. The objectives to achieve are food safety for basic products and diversification of the range of products intended to exportation. The problem of Tunisia is to mobilize all the water resources.
Only 380,000 hectares are irrigated, which is a low rate. The variations of the agricultural production are due to the irregular rains. The specificity of the climate allows to cultivate fruits and vegetables over reversed season as regards to France.
During the years 1996-1997, a favorable climatic condition combined with the improvement of the mobilization of water resources and the liberalization of the imports arrivals strengthened the agricultural production growth.
Today, the sector suffers from two major problems: the dispersal of agricultural properties and the number of farmers which has varied from 326,000 to 471,000 between 1961 and 1996, with surfaces ranging on average from 16 hectares to 11 hectares by farmers, which is very far from the competitive standard of 50 hectares.
As far as fishing is concerned, fish farming activities are located in Sfax. This sector suffers from a crisis which is connected with the diminution of fishing resources of the Bay of Gabs. The Ministry of Equipment and Environment plans to develop 5 new fishing ports by attracting foreign capital. Sea products are exported especially to Italy and Spain.

Agricultural population (in thousands)

Total population

9 937

Agricultural population

2 299

Non agricultural population

7 638

Source : 2004, FAOSTAT

Land use

Cultivated surface area

9 784 000

Irrigated surface area

394 000

Number of farms


Number of tractors

35 100

Source : 2003, FAOSTAT

Production indicators

Main crops

Product Production (in thousands) Harvested surface (1000 ha) Yield by hectare (kg/ha)
Wheat 1627 962 1692
Tomatoes 960 27 36090
Olives 600 1500 400
Barley 465 381 1220
Watermelons 350 28 12500

Source : 2005, FAOSTAT


Specie Headcount (in thousands)
Chickens 64000
Sheep 7213
Turkeys 4400
Goats 1427
Cattle 686

Source : 2005, FAOSTAT

Fishing (in metric tons)

Shellfish, mollusks and cephalopods Saltwater fish Freshwater fish
18 314 91 002 1 784

Source : 2005, FAOSTAT