By Michel Cousins.
Tripoli, 25 November:
A delegation of some 20 French agricultural and agro-industrial companies is to visit Libya from 1 to 6 December to look into potential collaboration with the Libyan agricultural sector.
The visit to Tripoli, Benghazi and Misrata is being organised by the French government’s Bureau des Operations Internationales (BOI) together with France’s international agricultural promotion organisation ADEPTA, the Franco-Libyan Chamber of Commerce, the French export promotion agency Ubifrance and the export agency of the Brittany region, Bretagne International.
The delegation represents one of the 11 business “clusters” set up by France to respond to perceived Libyan reconstruction needs. Created by MEDEF International (the external trade wing of the French business confederation) and the Franco-Libyan Chamber of Commerce, the clusters correspond to those sectors identified as priorities by the Libyan authorities. They are: Food and Agriculture, Banking and Finance, Construction, Water and Environment, Electricity and Energy, Oil and Gas, Health, Security, Telecommunications, Transport and Urban, and Regional Planning.
The idea is that representatives from each cluster present to both government officials and the private sector a summary of what France can offer Libya.
According to the Franco-Libyan chamber, a recent audit of agricultural potential in Libya by Ubifrance confirmed major needs in the country’s agricultural and agro-industrial sectors.
It is estimated that only a quarter of the Libyan agricultural needs are met locally; the rest is imported. Nonetheless, after being mismanaged for decades by the previous regime, agriculture is seen as a significant potential pillar of a diversified Libyan economy.
The areas the French delegation will cover are livestock (including improving animal production and meat, milk, and cheese processing), cereals and tree plantation, the food industry, irrigation, and aquaculture and fishing port infrastructure.
The visit follows that of the deputy Libyan Minister of Agriculture to the International Agriculture Show in Paris earlier this year which resulted in a series of joint meetings in France.
The visit had originally been planned to take place in June but was delayed because of the elections and then the process of choosing a new government.