Tunisia’s Ministry of Agriculture expected the country to triple its olive oil production in the November-December season, which it hoped would give a much-needed boost to exports.

According to agriculture minister Samir Bettaib, olive oil output would reach 254,000 tonnes, compared to approximately 86,200 tonnes produced last year, Reuters reported on 6 November.

Tunisia hoped to export about 199,500 tonnes of olive oil this seasons, which would mark a 193% increase from last year’s 68,000 tonnes that brought in US$320M.

Tunisia – which is the world’s sixth largest exporter of olive oil responsible for 2.3% of the global supply – had over 70M olive-producing trees on 1.7M ha of cultivated land, which provided an income to at least 500,000 families in the country of 11M people.

The country hoped that rising olive oil exports could help it reduce its record trade deficit, which hit US$4.61bn in the first nine months of the year and stemmed from an economic crisis brought on by a popular uprising in 2011.

Attacks from islamist militants had also taken their toll on the country’s tourism industry and weakened the Tunisian dinar against other currencies, Reuters wrote.