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Thousands of Tons of Oranges Might Have to Be Destroyed

Farmers in Tunisia are warning that their bumper orange crop may have to be destroyed if buyers for the fruit cannot be found.

Phoebe Hurst

Phoebe Hurst

It's hard to believe that anyone could turn down a sun-ripened orange, plucked fresh from the branch but in Tunisia, that could be about to happen. And on a mass scale.

Farmers from the North African country are warning that thousands of tonnes of oranges may have to be destroyed if buyers for the fruit cannot be found, due to an unexpectedly large harvest this year.

As the Guardian reports, citrus growers association Groupement Interprofessionel des Fruits (GIF) says that 550,000 tonnes of oranges have been harvested so far this year in Tunisia, compared to the usual 400,000 tonnes.

READ MORE: Nobody Wants Your Stupid Orange Juice Anymore, Florida

This year's mega crop is down to dry weather and, according to GIF head Mohamed Ali Jandoubi, "physiological conditions" that caused the orange blossoms and fruit to stay on trees.

While agriculture exports are a key part of the Tunisian economy (110,000 tonnes of dates were exported between 2015 and 2016), the country's Union of Agriculture and Fishery has warned that only 10 percent of the orange harvest is expected to be sent overseas this year.

Which is bad news for the 12,000 Tunisian families relying on the orange industry to make a living. Many have urged the authorities to help them expand into juice and cosmetics for an extra revenue stream.

Throw a few our way, Tunisia. That could be a whole lot of homemade orange butter.