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Tunisia: Pomegranates - an exotic fruit enjoyed by both Europe and Arab countries

Originally from Persia (Iran), pomegranates (Punica granatum L.) have been cultivated in West Asia and North Africa for at least 5,000 years. They were introduced in Europe through Spain by the Arabs in the VIIIth century, and they became widely cultivated in Andalusia (the name of its biggest city - Granada - derives from the fruit).

Known for their distinctive taste and dietetic qualities, pomegranates from Tunisia seduce the most demanding consumers in Europe and in the Gulf, with exports that reached 1,472 tons in 2012 alone.

As regards the production from Tunisia, volumes are expected to reach 67,000 tons in 2013 for an area of 23,000 hectares. 63% of production is located in the coastal area of Gabes (South-East of the country) where pomegranate trees grow in the shade of date palms.

Pomegranate production areas in Tunisia


As regards cultivation, pomegranates in Tunisia are reserved to the Southern part of the county, and especially in the oases usually destined to date palms. New production areas are being developed in the North, so Tunisian pomegranates will get new impetus in the next few years.

These new areas have better growing conditions as it rains more, access to irrigation is easier and lower saltiness levels favour a high quality product, despite the capability of this tree to survive drought, saltiness and hot climates.





Among the new cultivation areas there is Testour, in the North-West of the country, with 1,050 hectares producing around 12,000 tons, followed by Cap Bon where 4,700 tons are produced on 1,050 hectares.

Annual domestic production and exports in the last five years
Year
Production
(tons)
Exports
(tons)
2012
74,000
1,472
2011
72,000
1,240
2010
67,000
4,825
2009
75,000
4,059
2008
75,000
4,469

Distribution of exports per country

Click here to enlarge the chart. 

Pomegranates are mainly eaten fresh, as the arils are really sweet. The fruit is also widely known for grenadine and for the delicious jam. Once boiled and soaked in hot water, the skin is used for skin treatments, not to mention the dietetic and therapeutic qualities of the fruit.

The most exported varieties are Gabsi (below left) and Tounsi (below right).




VarietyGabsiTounsi
Harvest date15/09/201315/10/2013
Production areaSouth-EastNorth-West
Grade
big
medium
Skin colourred 70%+ greenish 30%
red
Aril colourred
dark red
Juice
abundant
abundant
Taste of the arilsvery sugarysugary
Acidity of the arilslow
low

The Tunisian government developed an export strategy diversifying the supply and guaranteeing a high enough quality to satisfy the needs and demands of the various international markets.

That is why many plantations were certified as "Organic Pomegranate" by a European organisation. Other plantations in the South are part of the "Gabes Pomegranate" programme, which has a particular colour, ripens on the tree without colouring activators, and has a juicy, sweet flesh that tastes really good.



Agri Didon Tunisia will attend Macfrut 2013 (Cesena, 25th-27th September) through its salesman in Italy, Gianluca Sperone (Mobile no.: +39 329 74371599), who will be happy to provide information on the supply and characteristics of pomegranates.

Contacts:
Agri Didon Tunisia
76, Avenue Habib Bourguiba Appt A-1-1
2080 Ariana (Tunisia)
Web: www.agrididon-tunisia.com

Abdallah Frikha
Mobile no.: (+216) 27 522 157
Email: a.frikha@agrididon-tunisia.com

Gianluca Sperone - rappresentante in Italia
Mobile no.: (+39) 329 7437159
(+216) 27 71 50 54
Email: gsperone@agrididon-tunisia.com

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