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Libya’s economy is rebounding, as is domestic food production. The latter was up slightly in 2012 from the previous year, when civil conflict disrupted supply lines, causing shortages in food, fuel and agricultural inputs. With the crisis came massive displacement, economic losses and more unemployment. Agricultural production slowed as many farmers were unable to cover rising production costs. FAO has been working to turn that around, helping farming families produce fresh food for the local markets and safeguarding their remaining assets.
Increasing local food production
Libya imports most of its cereals, but produces a fair amount of meat, fish, dairy products, fruits and vegetables. During the uprising, seeds and other productive inputs, equipment and spare parts became scarce and expensive; many domestic fertilizer factories were destroyed. Lost production and wages combined with high food prices created more hardships for families, especially poor city dwellers. FAO has provided farmers across Libya’s eastern coastal belt with quality vegetable seeds, fertilizers and training on improved agronomic practices and irrigation in a bid to make fresh and nutritious food more readily available throughout the country.
Pest infestations can wipe out crops and livestock and with it, a family’s ability to earn a living. Unusually good rains in October 2011, and again in February 2012, provided ideal conditions for a desert locust outbreak in southwest Libya and southeast Algeria. FAO coordinated an airlift of pesticides to Libya, where more than 20 000 hectares were treated. Insecurity in the infested areas, however, hampered ground control operations. As a result, locust swarms developed and spread to Niger and Mali. FAO, along with its partners, is supporting the national locust centre to strengthen its capacity to carry out locust survey and control operations, pointing to the need for enhanced early warning, preparedness and response throughout the region.
Food security monitoring
Libya’s recent crisis has underscored the importance of having a food security monitoring and governance system in place. Such a system enables key stakeholders to identify shortfalls in local food production and gaps in commercial food supplies and distribution, and to respond to risks of transboundary animal diseases, especially along the country’s borders. To this end, FAO has provided technical assistance and institutional support to build the capacity of the Government as well as Non-governmental Organizations, civil society and farmer-based organizations to ensure evidence-based analysis on food security issues, as well as coordinated responses and policy action.