The impacts of introducing hydroponics to Libya’s farms

Libya’s agrarian community is small. The country has a desert climate, so the land is not typically fertile enough to sustain Libya’s farms. Due to this, more than 690,000 Libyans struggle with food insecurity. However, a new hydroponic farm in Libya hopes to enhance agriculture techniques. This is a step toward ending the country’s reliance on foreign assistance programs.

Agriculture has been a continually shrinking business sector in Libya since 2014. That year, more than 20% of the Libyan workforce was involved in agriculture. In 2020, it was barely 18%. Potential expansion in the workforce is limited for Libya’s farms. They no longer have as many employees, which puts an even larger strain on the agriculture sector.

To improve water access in Libya, entrepreneur Siraj Bechiya and his business partner Mounir built a hydroponic farm in Qouwea, Libya, in 2020. Hydroponic farming involves growing plants without soil, using mineral nutrients. Hydroponics does not require much space but can significantly improve crop output, as the crops are more tightly packed together than traditional farming techniques.

In 2021, the farm began producing crops that are not typically indigenous to Libya’s farms. Bechiya and Mounir trained in hydroponic farming in Tunisia for two years before returning to Libya to utilize what they learned.

The hydroponic farm first caught international attention in April 2021 because the technique is new to Libya. Bechiya and Mounir built their farm by hand with tarps, PVC pipes, and plastic cups with holes poked in them to allow the water flow. The duo purchased supplies from stores in the region and constructed the greenhouse, planters, and water system by themselves.

The dry weather limits Libya’s farming, but with the small amount of required water constantly flowing and filtering in the plants, the crops are never without water or nutrients. The same system captures, filters, and recycles all the water. This recycling continuously waters the crops, so hydroponics allows crops to be grown year-round. With this technology, Libya’s crops no longer have to depend on the season or suffer drought.

Bechiya and Mounir have produced crops like lettuce, a crop rich in vitamins and nutrients not usually grown in Libya. They share their crops with the community and freely share their information and knowledge of hydroponics to expand potential farming in Libya. The expansion of hydroponics in Libya could be a great asset to ending the need for food assistance programs from foreign aid.

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