November 6, 2012 / 9:19 AM / in 5 years

Tunisia expects olive oil crop to rise 33 percent

Tunis, Nov 6 (Reuters) - Tunisia expects olive oil output will grow this year by 33 percent , which could push exports and combat the economic crisis that followed last year’s revolution, Agriculture Minister said on Tuesday.

Tunisia is among the world’s top exporters of olive oil, a commodity that is subject to growing interest from both consumers and investors.

“Olive oil output will be exceptional this will reach 240,000 tons this year for this first time, against 180,000 tons last year,” Agriculture Minister Mohamed ben Salem said.

Tunisia produced 120,000 tons of olive oil in the 2010 campaign.

Tunisia’s exports of olive oil ranging between 120,000 tons and 150,000 tons each year.

Olive harvest season will start next week and continue for three months.

The olive oil industry relies on 70 million olive trees that cover around 1.6 million hectares. They provide a living for at least 500,000 families in the North African country of 10.5 million.

Olive oil represent at least 7 percent of the country’s total exports which amounted to $ 16 billion in 2011.

The economy shrank 1.8 percent in 2011 when the popular revolution which ousted President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali closed factories and deterred tourists and expects

Tunisia’s finance ministry has set 3.5 percent as its growth target for 2012. (Reporting By Tarek Amara, editing by William Hardy)

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