More than 160 companies and organisations are participating in the 8th Libya International Exhibition for Agriculture, Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries being held at the Tripoli International Fairgrounds from 28 to 31 March.
The event was inaugurated by both Mohamed Hwej, the Minister of Economy and Trade, and Deputy Prime Minister and Acting Agricultural Minister Hussein Gatrani, representing the Caretaker incumbent Tripoli government of Abd Alhamid Aldabaiba.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, the Minister of Economy and Trade Hwej, noted how the Ukraine war had brought home the need for food security ‘‘Food security is Libya’s security’’, he stated.
Libya’s agricultural priorities
He said Libya had agricultural priorities such as olive oil, dates, fish and grains. He bemoaned the fact that Libya used to produce a useful volume of grain in the south and how this has now (since the 2011 revolution) been neglected.
Libya’s fish stock exploited by foreign fishers
Hwej admitted the open secret that many foreign fishermen have been exploiting Libya’s fish stocks in its territorial waters, especially Tuna, unchallenged by the Libyan state. ‘‘Our Tuna is being stolen’’, he said emphatically.
Food industry needs more support
Going forward he admitted that the state and government need to offer more support to the domestic food industry. The priority needs to be exportable foods.
Need to create a supporting cluster
But Minister Hwej understood that the agricultural and food production sector cannot be supported in isolation. He said there are other supporting and complimentary sectors that need to be supported and activated to help this sector.
At the top of this is Libya’s banking sector. The agriculture and food sector need finance to expand and need local banks to offer finance for this to happen, he explained.
Libya needs to diversify its economy away from dominant hydrocarbons
Minister Hwej repeated the oft quoted mantra by most of his predecessors that Libya needs to diversify its economy away from the dominant hydrocarbons. He bemoaned the fact that Libya only exports its hydrocarbons in crude form – without any added value.
Need for renewable energies
Finally, the Minister said Libya needs to exploit its geographic location and establish a renewable energy sector as part of its wider diversification plan.
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