04 October 20197 min reading

Tunisia is an Arabian Islamic and a North African country on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea. Its neighbors are Algeria in the west, Libya and the Mediterranean Sea on the east, and the Mediterranean Sea in the north. The Great Sahara Desert covers the southern part of the country. According to the 2019 Census, its population is near to 11 million. Ninety-nine percent of the population is Muslim and speaks Arabic. The Berber language speaking people populate the south part of the country. Islam constitutes one percent of the population in this region. Generally, foreign people come from France and Italia.

Tunisia is considered the second powerful country in North Africa. The food industry constitutes 16.6 percent of the manufacturing industry in the country. The state has given priority to the processing of agricultural products in the policy of industrialization. Here, the aim is to be self-sufficient in all good products as the country imports nearly all of these food products, and then the country aims to export the basic foodstuff like kuskus, tomato paste, margarine, and olive oil. However, Tunisia could not be self-sufficient in grain production.

In North African countries, cereal-derived food products, especially pasta varieties, are widely consumed. It is not possible to talk about a nutrition culture in the current situation because of drought in Central Africa, internal strife, and problems of agriculture policies. Nevertheless, pasta and biscuit can play an important role in solving malnutrition problem for short terms in these regions.

The African continent consists of a wide area and geography of diverse cultures. That’s why the nutrition habit varies in the North African region near to the Mediterranean Sea, Central Africa, and South African countries. The North African countries near the Mediterranean Sea usually consume fish and meat products and also have a variety of spices. Cereal-based food products, particularly pasta varieties, are generally consumed in these regions.

In terms of surface area and population density, Africa is the second biggest continent. With an area of 30.8 million square kilometers, it covers 6% of the world’s surface area and 24.4% of the world’s territory. With its population near to 1 billion 300 million, it has 15 percent of the world’s population. The biggest factor pushing the world’s population up is Asian and European countries. Nevertheless, the birth rate in African countries is also high. That’s why it contributes to the increasing world population. As of 2018, the population of African countries has approached 1.3 billion.

Generally speaking, Tunisia is an agriculture country. More than half of its surface area is suitable for agriculture. However, 35 percent of this area is cultivatable. Tunisia is one of the top 10 countries in the world in olive production. Industrial activities are underdeveloped. However, it has important places in the light industry branches such as leather, paper, food, and handcrafts. Also, the country makes manufacturing in oil, cellulose, steel, and electrical home appliances. The phenomenon of tourism that has been developing in the country in recent years has led to an increase in investments in this field. That’s why there has been an increase in tourists visiting the country. The fishery in Tunisia that has 1350 kilometers long coastline has great importance. The state constructs ports and supports the sector via financial incentives.

Tunisia is one of the countries that Turkish people do not feel alienated. Ottoman reign on this land more than three hundred years shows its influence. Tunisian cuisine is a typical cuisine that has its characteristics like almost all of the North African countries. For breakfast, Tunisian people consume coffee with milk together and also bread with jam and butter. This habit came from French influence over Tunisia. Tunisia people who are as successful as other Maghreb countries creating other own bread prefer flatbread that can be roasted and baked from whole grain flour and wheat flour. Occasionally, these loaves of bread made from fermented dough are also preferred as fluffy.

Even the preparation of kuskus – common meal of Maghreb countries – is unique to Tunisia. Tunisian Cuisine is based on lamb, mutton, fish, seafood, and vegetables. It is seen that pasta types have an important place in Tunisian cuisine under the influence of Italians. Tunisian people usually consume kuskus, tajine or pasta varieties in lunches which have a more important place than dinners. The oldest dish of the country is kuskus that is not unheard of for Turkish people. However, the preparation is too different. Kuskus is consumed with Merguez, spicy sausage cooked at grill or pan. As known, Italian people come at the top of pasta consumption per person with 26 kilograms. Venezuela follows Italia with 13 kilograms and then comes Tunisia with 11.7 kilograms. Based on 2010 data, Tunisia produces 110 thousand tons of pasta per year and prioritizes agricultural products processing. Here, the aim is to be self-sufficient in all good products as the country imports nearly all of these food products, and then the country aims to export the basic foodstuff like kuskus, tomato paste, margarine, and olive oil. In this area, the growth continues.

Another typical food of Tunisian people is “Brique.” This food is very close to the raw pastry in Turkey. For this pastry, firstly, the dough is rolled thin and sliced in shape of a dessert plate and filled with materials. Meanwhile, the liquid oil is fried. Before putting the pastry into the fried oil, an egg is broken and put into the pastry. Brique is consumed while holding both sides of the pastry. The best Brique is baked in a way that egg white is baked while the yellow part remains liquid. While eating Brique, olive, almond, and date are eaten as well. Tunisians make many different sweets and cookies with almonds and dates. Tunisia’s customs duty rates on world biscuit imports are around 36 percent on average.

The agricultural sector is one of the most important for Tunisia. The sector contributes 9 percent to GDP and has a 6 percent share in the overall export. The value of export in agriculture and food is close to USD 1 billion. In terms of food products, Tunisia has become self-sufficient, and the difference between consumption and cultivation of strategic agricultural products has lowered. Tunisia is also an important exporter of agricultural products (especially olive oil) as it imports foodstuffs. Approximately 75% of the olive oil produced in Tunisia is exported depending on the annual production amount. Tunisia is the second biggest producer of olive oil in the world after the EU. Olive oil exports account for 25 percent of total agricultural products exports. Tunisia exports 70 percent of its olive oil to Italy and the USA.

Tunisia has an agricultural area of 8,575 million hectares. 4.9 million hectares of this area is in use. 90% of arable land in Tunisia belongs to the private sector. The public part is rented with long term. Cereal production covers 1.3 million hectares of agricultural land; this amount is below 1.6 million hectares in the previous years. Europe (France and Italy) and the Black Sea countries (Ukraine and Russia) have become important suppliers. Tunisian government pays importance to the price in import; that’s why unqualified products are imported. However, this strategy causes uneasiness among producers. The basic policy is to increase production and to meet the country’s cereal need and to lower the import. Achieving 2.7 million tons, which is self-sufficiency, is the main objective.

Based on the Foreign Agricultural Services of the US Department of Agriculture, the wheat production of Tunisia is 1.5 million tons in 2014/15 while it lowered to 912 thousand tons in 2015/16. A year later, it climbed to 1 million tons and further climbed to 1.2 million tons in 2017/18.

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