The target territories of the CLUSTER SERVAGRI project are the four Tunisian governorates of Kairouan, Monastir, Nabeul and Sousse and the three Sicilian provinces of Catania, Ragusa and Syracuse.
In Tunisia, the agricultural sector occupies a preponderant place in the development of the regional economy.
Thanks to the abundance of water resources, agriculture remains the most important sector for the local economy and employs 40% of the active population. Kairouan holds 12.6% of the country’s irrigated perimeters and is known mainly for the production of vegetables (peppers, tomatoes) and fruit (apricots, almonds and olives), with an area of 175,800 hectares dedicated to olive growing.
The economy of the governorate of Monastir is essentially based on agriculture, specialised in the production of first fruits and greenhouse crops; the governorate continues to record notable progress in animal and especially vegetable production with its olive groves. Likewise, the fisheries sector plays a key role in the socio-economic activity of the governorate, which has become the most important production area for offshore aquaculture. As for the olive sector, we are talking about 63,600 hectares of land exploited for the production of olive oil and 4,000 hectares of organic olive trees.
Thanks to fertile soil, regular rains, management of arable areas and generous hydraulic resources, Nabeul is a first-rate agricultural region: cultivation, breeding and fishing are practiced here in a topographical, seasonal and ancestral diversity. The crops are so diverse that it can be said that, except for those ones of the oases, all the crops grown in Tunisia are found in this fertile region. Together with the abundance of crops, their variety is noted: grapevine, olive tree, various shrub crops, chili, tomato, tobacco, sorghum, legumes, spices as well as aromatic plants. Nabeul participates in 15% of the national agricultural production.
With its 158,974 ha of arable land (of which 78,000 ha of olive trees, 12,030 ha of irrigated and 932 ha of organic crops), the Governorate of Sousse is known for its agricultural vocation, due to its vast olive groves and traditional horticulture. In addition, the governorate is distinguished by fishing and other innovative activities such as organic farming.
The characteristics of the Sicilian territory involved in the CLUSTER SERVAGRI project range from Etna to the Baroque territory of South-east Sicily.
Etna olive growing in the province of Catania, also thanks to the improvement of cultivation techniques as well as product transformation, has taken on a function that, from mixed and marginal cultivation, has been transformed into specialised crops, assuming great territorial value and the oil produced has excellent organoleptic and chemicals characteristics and appreciated by local, national and international consumers, which led to the recognition of the PDO “Etna”.
The territory of the provinces of Syracuse and Ragusa (but, only partially, also of Catania), in the Monti Iblei massif, gave birth to a prestigious denomination, the PDO “Monti Iblei”. The oils produced in this area have always had a long tradition in the uses of consumers, both local and national.
The massif of the Iblei Mountains determines a peculiar thermal variation between day and night, which is particularly important in terms of the specific characteristics of agricultural production, including olives. The production area of “Monti Iblei” PDO extra virgin olive oil, therefore, involves the three provinces of Catania, Ragusa and Syracuse, for a total area of about 19,000 ha. The nature and landscapes of this vast territory reflect the history of a sunny and Mediterranean land, which has based its civilisation on agriculture and more traditional crops such as the olive tree. In this multifaceted scenery of nature and colours, with high altimetry variability, the cultivation of the olive tree characterises one of the most widespread agricultural landscapes, rich in centenary plants.
The olive trees are scattered in the hilly terrain, or combined with the other three typical crops of the Iblei, carob trees, almond trees and vineyards, or placed on the edge of citrus groves and areas planted with vegetables. In this elective area, olive growing is based on traditional systems and this is demonstrated by the presence of thousands of hectares of olive trees and hundreds of small mills, which use processes of extraction of oil by centrifuge, or even more traditional methods, such as pressure.
The extension of the collection has led to the birth of dozens of companies that bottle and market the product and that are projected on national and foreign markets.