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  Libya

Reference Date: 16-August-2022

FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT

  1. Close to average cereal production harvested in 2022

  2. Expensive inputs continue to constrain agricultural production

  3. Political instability continues to affect economy despite elevated crude oil prices

  4. People in need of assistance estimated at 0.8 million

Close to average cereal production in 2022

Harvesting of the 2022 winter grain crops concluded in July, harvesting of small quantities of spring‑sown millet is being finalized. Overall rainfall amounts in the main producing areas along the coast were satisfactory and cereal crop production in 2022 is estimated at a slightly below‑average level of 209 000 tonnes, unchanged from the previous year.

Following the ceasefire agreement in October 2020, the security situation in the country has improved, facilitating farmers’ access to the fields, but the risk of military clashes remains. Farmers report that power cuts and high prices of inputs, including seeds, water, fuel and machinery, continue to constrain their ability to cultivate land.

Agricultural production is also constrained by the landscape, only about 12 percent of the total area of 15.4 million hectares is arable. Although 470 000 hectares are suitable for irrigation, only some 240 000 hectares are currently irrigated due to concerns over the depletion of underground water. Cereals are cultivated in the coastal regions, where rainfed production or cropping with supplementary irrigation is possible, and in some arid areas in the south under full irrigation. The most commonly grown vegetables are tomatoes, peppers, onions and leafy greens.

The country relies heavily on imports (up to 90 percent) to cover its cereal consumption requirements (mostly wheat for human consumption and barley for feed) and changes in domestic cereal production have a limited impact on the magnitude of the import requirement. In the 2022/23 marketing year (July/June), the import requirement is projected at 3.2 million tonnes, about the same as in the previous year and close to average.

Between 2016 and 2020, the country sourced over 30 percent of its wheat imports from Ukraine, and 20 percent from the Russian Federation. Almost 65 percent of total maize imports of 650 000 tonnes, and 50 percent of total barley imports of 1 million tonnes originated from Ukraine, making the country vulnerable to disruptions in shipments from the Black Sea region.

Political instability prevails, hindering economic growth

After a contraction of over 20 percent year on year in 2020, the World Bank estimated that the Libyan economy grew by over 30 percent in 2021, driven by strengthening global oil prices and improved political stability. Despite elevated international crude oil prices benefiting the economy that is reliant on exports of hydrocarbons, disruptions to oil production and security tensions following the delay of national elections in December 2021 make predictions of economic growth in 2022 unreliable.

In 2021, daily oil production averaged about 1.2 million barrels. Since mid‑April 2022, oil output per day has been particularly volatile, bottoming out at less than 200 000 barrels owing to protests in fields and ports amidst the political crisis.

In January 2021, the Central Bank devaluated the national currency from about LYD 1.412/USD to LYD 4.48/USD, decreasing the gap between the official and parallel market rates. After a period of relative stability in the first nine month of 2021, the currency began to depreciate again reflecting political uncertainty. As of early August 2022, USD 1 sold for LYD 4.89 officially, and LYD 5.09 on the parallel market.

According to the 2022 Libya Humanitarian Needs Overview, about 0.8 million people (10 percent of the population) are estimated to be in need of humanitarian assistance, down from 1.3 million one year earlier. It includes 500 000 people requiring food assistance, about a third less than in 2021.

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.