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According to the latest available statistics, in 2000 the primary sector contributed up to 10.5% of Libyan GDP (8.6% for agriculture and fishing and 1.6% for mining).

The agricultural sector is ranked second in terms of importance in Libyan GDP, just after oil. However, agricultural production is rather weak: national production of cereals thus only covers 8% of national needs, obliging Libya to import the rest. On the other hand, production of vegetables and fruit is sufficient to cover national needs. Animal production, particularly that of cattle and sheep, shows a clear deficit, so much so that imports of food products and live animals represents the 3rd largest import item, i.e. 14% of imports in 2003.
The weakness of the agricultural sector is explained by the quantity of arable land, which is small in Libya (hardly 5% of the territory). Over its 8.8 million hectares, only about 420 000 hectares are irrigated. The scarcity of water has obliged Libya to undertake a vast project to harness fresh water located under the Sahara, at a depth of more than 1000 metres. This project, the Great Man Made River was begun in 1983 with an estimated cost of 30 billion dollars. When it is completed, the surface irrigated could cover up to 600 000 hectares.
There is no minister for agriculture and agricultural policy is run by a general inspector.

The main products grown are fruit and vegetables: watermelons, potatoes, dates, onions, etc. Libya imports mainly wheat and tomatoes.

Agricultural population (in thousands)

Total population

5 659

Agricultural population


Non agricultural population

5 395

Source : 2004, FAOSTAT

Land use

Cultivated surface area

15 450 000

Irrigated surface area

470 000

Number of farms


Number of tractors

39 750

Source : 2003, FAOSTAT

Production indicators

Main crops

Product Production (in thousands) Harvested surface (1000 ha) Yield by hectare (kg/ha)
Watermelons 240 16 15000
Onions dry 235 12 19184
Potatoes 195 10 19480
Tomatoes 190 10 19000
Olives 180 200 900

Source : 2005, FAOSTAT


Specie Headcount (in thousands)
Chickens 25000
Sheep 4500
Goats 1265
Cattle 130
Camels 47

Source : 2005, FAOSTAT

Fishing (in metric tons)

Shellfish, mollusks and cephalopods Saltwater fish Freshwater fish
n.c. 46 329 10

Source : 2005, FAOSTAT