Tunisia: Dam Fill Rates Lag as Citrus Production Expected to Drop 20%

by | Aug 24, 2023 | Economic, Tunisia


This week, local agricultural labor union officials in Nabeul reported that citrus production is expected to fall by as much as 20% due to lack of water as well as disease. Nabeul has traditionally supplied as much as 75% of Tunisia’s overall citrus crop.

Agriculture suffered significantly this year across Tunisia, with reports earlier in 2023 indicating large drops in both fruit and wheat production.

The ongoing, multi-year drought is a major source of the challenges faced by farmers. The fill rates of dams have been in the spotlight with dams across Tunisia holding far less water than normal. This week, government data from National Agricultural Observatory (ONAGRI) indicated that dam fill rates remain at approximately 20% of their annual average over the past three years.


Agricultural outputs lagged behind average across multiple areas of production, creating additional stress on the already floundering Tunisian economy.

Lower-than-average wheat harvests required additional government intervention to import the wheat necessary to maintain supplies of bread. Lower fruit harvests stressed what is typically a source of export income.

The cumulative effects of poor harvests will likely continue to play out by straining Tunisia’s rural working class and other economically vulnerable communities, which could lead to unrest.

The government budget is under increasing strain from the $2 billion shortfall left by the failure to secure the International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan deal around which the 2023 budget was designed.


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