TUNIS- Tunisia expects its olive oil output to triple in the November-December season to a record 280,000 tons, which will boost exports, a minister said on Monday.
Tunisia is among the world's top exporters of olive oil, in which both consumers and investors are showing a growing interest.
"Olive oil output is to reach record and exceptional levels this season... It will reach about 280,000 tons for this first time, against only 95,000 tons last year," Agriculture Minister Samir Bettaib said.
The olive oil industry relies on 70 million olive trees that cover around 1.7 million hectares. They provide a living for at least 500,000 families in the North African country of 11 million.
Tunisia has been in economic crisis since a popular uprising in 2011 ousted the former government. The crisis deepened as militant attacks took their toll on the tourism industry and weakened the dinar against hard currencies.
It hopes that rising olive oil exports will help reduce its record trade deficit, which hit $4.61 billion in the first nine months this year.
Tunisia aims to export about 220,000 tons of olive oil this season compared with about 75,000 tons last season that brought in 320 million dollars.
(Reporting By Tarek Amara; Editing by Ulf Laessing and Hugh Lawson) ((firstname.lastname@example.org;))