Tunisia, as a founding member of the IOC from its creation in February 1956, has participated actively in the successive international Agreements on olive oil and table olives and has contributed to all the working groups set up to monitor research and development and olive oil chemistry activities over the last 60 years. As one of the signatories of the first International Olive Oil Agreement in 1959, together with Belgium, France, Greece, Israel, Italy, Libya, Morocco, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom, Tunisia has the second largest olive-growing area in the world after Spain.
Fifty years ago, Tunisia was using 800 000 ha of land for olive growing, which accounted for 16 pc of the world olive acreage. More than 99 pc of the production from Tunisian olive orchards is used for oil extraction, while the remainder is used for table olive processing. The country has more than 800 million olive trees, of which 35 pc are less than 5 years old; 54 pc are between 20 and 70 years old and 15 pc were planted over 70 years ago. Only 5 pc of the olive-growing area is cultivated under irrigation.Tunisia is the second country, after Spain, with the highest olive area,