Libya's One Million Opportunities for Bumper Harvest

Libya's One Million Opportunities for Bumper Harvest

Libya's One Million Opportunities for Bumper Harvest

By / Agriculture / Sunday, 22 July 2018 14:49

Have you ever heard of Malibya?

It is a Libyan investment initiative that has leased up to 100,000 hectares in Mali to plant hybrid rice and process tomatoes, amongst other agricultural ventures. The company pays nothing for the land. The only payment forthcoming from them is a water tax.

I am definitely opposed to countries leasing land in other countries because local people almost always end up suffering in the process. But I will not delve deeper into that in this article. Rather, I want us to delve into the land in Libya and how it can also serve the country’s food security pursuits.

Indeed, Libya is a very, very big country that is roughly the size of Norway, Sweden and Britain combined. One then wonders why they have to venture into Mali when they have massive land right under their nose. The answer lies in fertility. Libya salivated for Mali’s one hundred hectares because their proximity to Niger River imbued them with land fertility.

As the Agroecologist E.F. De Pauw wrote in his paper, ‘Management of Dryland and Desert Areas,’ “The main principles for successful dryland crop management are well known. Essentially they boil down to retaining precipitation on the land, to reducing evaporation, and to use crops with drought tolerance.”

Has Libya really gone that extra mile to manage its dryland in sustainable fashion that will increasingly result in agricultural yield that can feed its people and even be exported? Sustainable dryland management is like that sumptuous meal that takes hours or even days to prepare. Such a meal is a marathon that shuns the sprint of fast food. It is often a lot easier to just go the fast food way.

Similarly, sustainable dryland management takes time, patience and meticulous planning. But eventually, it provides long term solutions as opposed to the quick fix solutions of food importation or foreign land leasing.

Libya should start looking at its more than one million hectares as one million opportunities to plant the crops that it is importing.  

Author

DJ Bwakali

DJ Bwakali

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