A Libyan company based in the south-eastern oasis of the country (Jalu) is to plant 150 hectares of one of the leading varieties of high yield grass for animal field (Mombasa grass).
The agricultural company, Shawaty Afrikiya (African Coasts), confirmed to Libya Herald that it is using pivot irrigation systems to water the huge area. The company says the specific variety it is using is distinguished by its length, productivity, high protein content and softness of leaves.
Single pivot projects exploiting fossil water in the south
The project is a reminder of the now neglected single centre pivot irrigation projects scattered all along Libya’s south that had been installed at great cost to Libya prior to 2011.
The centre pivot irrigation systems take advantage of the plentiful and relatively shallow fossil water resources in Libya’s south. These projects had been showpieces of the Qaddafi regime. However, being mostly state owned, corruption led to their neglect.
Ukraine war, high prices and food insecurity
However, the Ukraine war, the world-wide hike in food prices and national food security have led to Libya re-evaluating the utility of these huge centre pivot irrigation projects. Libya also wants to create jobs for its youth, diversify its economy away from hydrocarbons and encourage regional development. Agriculture in the south is seen as a policy that ticks all these boxes.
Valmont signs agreement for solar powered pivot irrigation
It will be recalled that U.S. pivot irrigation company Valmont had signed an agreement with Libya to convert the country’s centre pivot systems to run on solar power. Currently, due to the acute power cuts, the pivot irrigation systems are unable to operate.