Olives, olive oil and dates in Tunisia
Tunisia is a country of agriculture. Most of the country's industry is focused on processing the yields of Tunisian farmers. In this article, we will tell you about the two main cultures that give the country the largest profits from exports and are loved by our tourists as delicious gifts from Tunisia. These are olives and dates. Also tell about Tunisian olive oil.
Olives and dates - the basis of the economy of Tunisia
Tunisia ranks 5th in the world in terms of olive yields, second only to Spain, Greece, Italy and Turkey. Tunisians collect 840,000 tons of olives per year (the average figure). Compared to the leaders, the figure is modest, but Tunisia does not have a large territory suitable for agriculture, and the country's population is 10 million people. If you consider the cultivated olives per capita, then Tunisia is an absolute record holder - 84 kilograms per inhabitant per year.
In Tunisia, 190,000 tons of olive oil are produced per year, which is 10% of the world's olive oil. This is 19 kilograms per person, also a world record.
Export of oil is an important item of replenishment of the country's budget currency, only tourism and phosphates bring the country more currency earnings. The country exports about 130,000 tons of oil per year, which gives $ 490 million in profit (statistics of 2014).
According to the dates, Tunisia's position is more modest - 9th place and 196 500 tons per year. However, in terms of exports, Tunisians in the world are leading, they sell to the world market about 100 000 tons of dates annually, earning about 400 million dollars. Even in Russia, almost all the sold dates are of Tunisian origin.
Let's talk about each direction in detail.
Olives grow on a tree, which is called "olive tree". This tree is a long-liver, it grows very long. The first fruits appear only after 20 years, and a full crop is removed only after 50 years. Olive trees are low, do not grow above 10 meters.
In Tunisia grows one of the oldest olive trees in the world, it is 2000 years old, and it still yields. This tree is located on the peninsula of Cap Bon, near the resorts of Nabeul and Hammamet .
In total, in Tunisia grows about 80 million olive trees, they are occupied by a third of arable land in the country. Many of the olive groves were planted by French colonists during the French protectorate, for example, the huge groves in Zarzis .
The largest regions of cultivation of olives are: the area around the city of Sfax and the Sahel region (the provinces of Mahdia , Monastir and Sousse ). Tunisians grow 140 different varieties of olives, the most common variety called Meski.
In the olive tree, not only fruits are valued, but also wood. Such wood is very interesting in texture and very expensive. Items from the olive tree can be seen in the photo on the left, click on the photo to zoom in on the whole screen.
In Tunisia, dishes and souvenirs from olive trees are very cheap, do not miss the chance to purchase.
In Tunisia pressed oil from ancient times. In ancient times in the era of ancient Rome, olive oil was used for everything - it was fried, added to dishes, burned for lighting, it was the basis of most medicines.
The territory of Tunisia was then the center of the province of Africa, the country was fabulously rich due to the export of oil to Rome. At some point in Rome, a free distribution of olive oil to the people was organized, which stimulated an unprecedented economic boom on the lands of modern Tunisia. Especially the Djerba Island got rich, which, in addition to oil revenues, was still profited from the transit trade between "black Africa" and the Mediterranean.
Now the role of olive oil in the lives of Tunisians has changed little. As before, it is based on the medicines of local folk medicine. It is added to many traditional dishes, for example, couscous . Even in mashed potatoes, Tunisians use olive oil, and not milk, as is customary here. Olive oil is the basis of most sauces, for example, Harissa .
The most common brand of oil in Tunisia is called "Al Jazira". In the photo on the right, the shelving of one of the shops in Yasmine Hammamet is completely filled with this oil, a situation typical of Tunisia.
Olive oil has always been an expensive product. One olive tree produces an average of 3.5 liters. The average price is 10 Tunisian dinars per liter. In Russia price tags are 2 times higher, for this reason olive oil is so popular to bring from Tunisia.
We will not give advice on the selection and purchase of olive oil in Tunisia on this page. About this, we are very detailed in the article " What to bring from Tunisia to tourists ."
The dates grow on palm trees, and date palms grow in Tunisia all over the place, which surprises the Russians . We do not recommend eating fruits from street palms. Palms are high - up to 20 meters in height.
Dates are a very important culture for Tunisians from ancient times. Traditional dinner for a Tunisian begins with dates, and they must necessarily be eaten by an odd number. After the dates eat soup chorba, briks and couscous.
Date date palms grow much faster than olive trees. In 10 years, the first fruits appear, and the first harvest is removed for 15 years. The yield of adult palms is 250 kilograms!
The first fruits on date palms can be seen in June, in August you can harvest. In the photo on the left is a very young palm tree, growing right by the road. Fruits yet to see, as the photo is made in May.
In conditions of a complex Tunisian climate and a meager choice of food, the dates have always been a source of vitamins and trace elements for local residents. You can say that the dates were irreplaceable. On the Internet you can find huge tables of the content of useful substances in the dates, this is one of the most useful fruits for a person.
The dates in Tunisia range from 8 to 12 dinars per kilogram, such prices in the tourist markets and in the supermarkets Monoprix and Carrefour . To buy dates for such money does not make much sense, since in Russia the same Tunisian dates cost the same money. If you can get to the local market, then you can buy dates and 3-5 dinars.
Let's give some advice on the choice of dates. Choose the dates on the branch, it is a guarantee that the fruits have not been on the ground. The best dates must be visible, the bone must be clearly visible. Shelf life is 1.5 years. Be sure to look for a date on the package, traders in Tunisia like to sell to tourists stale goods. If the dates on the package are not found, do not buy such dates.
Successful communication with olives and dates in Tunisia, and read our useful for tourists and cognitive for all articles about this country ( list of links below ).
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