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Country Briefs

  Libya

Reference Date: 04-October-2017

FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT

  1. Despite ceasefire deal in July 2017, conflict continues to halt economic recovery and deteriorate food security prospects

  2. Security-related uncertainties disrupted procurement and distribution systems, resulting in income losses for farmers unable to market their production and leading to food shortages in urban areas

  3. People in need of assistance estimated at 1.3 million

Conflict continues to threaten agricultural production

Planting of the 2018 winter grain crops will start in October. Remote-sensed information indicates favourable conditions for the start of the season. Nevertheless, farmers continue to report that security concerns prevented them from purchasing seeds, particularly for crops, such as vegetables, whose seeds are not normally saved from the previous harvest. Increases in fuel prices also limited farmers’ ability to carry out mechanized operations.

Out of the 2.1 million hectares of land suitable for agriculture, 1.8 million hectares are classified as arable and 300 000 hectares under permanent crops, mostly fruit trees. The area developed for irrigation is about 470 000 hectares, but only some 240 000 hectares are currently irrigated. Cereals are mostly cultivated in the coastal regions, where rainfed production or cropping with supplementary irrigation is possible, and in the arid south under full irrigation. Wheat is used exclusively for human consumption, while all the other cereals are used as animal feed.

Below-average domestic crop harvested in 2017

The 2017 cereal crop production is estimated at about 234 000 tonnes, about 18 percent below average and 10 percent below last year’s output. The country relies heavily on imports (up to 90 percent) for its cereal consumption requirements, mostly wheat and barley. In the 2017/18 marketing year (July/June), the actual import requirement is projected at 3.1 million tonnes, about the same as in the previous year.

Continuing conflict affecting economy

Civil insecurity, fuelled by the presence of armed groups, brought about the destruction of public infrastructure, disrupted procurement and distribution systems, resulting in food shortages, mainly in urban areas, and in the loss of income for farmers that were unable to market their production.

The country is one of the most hydrocarbon‑dependent economies in the world, with oil revenues accounting for more than 80 percent of the State revenues. Domestic oil production has recovered faster than expected following the end of the conflict in 2011. However, it is currently well below the 2010 level of 1.55 million barrels per day due to clashes between groups in the oil-producing regions to gain permanent control of key facilities.

After a contraction in the Gross Domestic Production (GDP) in 2011 by almost 60 percent due to the fall in oil production, the economy grew by over 92 percent in 2012 (year-on-year). Continuous political transition and volatile oil production resulted in further contractions of up to 20 percent yearly in 2014 and 2015. As a result of the re-opening some key oil fields in 2017, the real GDP is expected to grow in 2017 by over 30 percent yearly.

Inflation eased from over 30 percent in July 2016 to 24 percent in January 2017, but rebounded to 27 percent in March 2017. High inflation levels remain supported by insecurity‑induced supply chain disruptions and a weakening Dinar. The unemployment rate, estimated at 26 percent as of end‑2010, is unlikely to improve in the short-run. A large share of the population is normally employed in the public sector.

The 2017 Libya Humanitarian Needs Overview (issued in November 2016) estimated the total number of people in need of humanitarian assistance at 1.3 million, or 20 percent of the population, with most severe cases reported in Aljfarah, Tripoli and Benghazi. The number of people in need of food assistance was put at 0.4 million. Refugees, asylum seekers and internally-displaced are among the most vulnerable. Food shortages have been reported mostly in the south and east, where basic food items, including wheat, bread, flour, pasta, oil, milk and fortified blended foods for children, are in short supply. Access to subsidized food among the affected population is also limited.

By the end of 2017, the WFP aims to assist up to 175 000 beneficiaries (including both domestic population and refugees) affected by the crisis following the disruption of basic social services and the Public Distribution System.

Disclaimer: The designations employed and the presentation of material in this information product do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of FAO concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.