Crops and Livestock
In the 1980s, statistics on Libyan agricultural production continued to vary widely. For example, figures compiled by the Central Bank of Libya generally exceeded those published by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization by 10 to 100 percent. During the 1980s, wheat and barley were the principal cereal crops, although millet was also grown in the southern oases. Both crops were cultivated throughout the country, in the coastal regions as well as in the desert oases. The optimum yield for wheat cultivation in Libya was thought to be about 5 tons per hectare, but by the mid1980s yields were only averaging about 0.5 ton per hectare. Citrus production declined to insignificant levels following the government's water conservation measures of 1976. Other important crops were dates, olives, melons, onions, and potatoes. Vegetables were grown in specialized farms near Tripoli. Tree crops remained popular because many farmers combined olive, date, apple, or almond raising with cereal production.
In the 1980s, livestock represented the largest incomeproducing item in agricultural production, and the government has instituted numerous measures designed to make the country selfsufficient in meat, poultry, and dairy products. The numbers of sheep, cattle, and poultry were slowly increasing, while the herds of goats and camels were decreasing. Sheep constituted the largest percentage of livestock, numbering some 6.3 million head in 1985. Sheep and goats were used for meat, milk, and wool and were found all over the country. The largest flocks were in the Al Kufrah settlement project. Modern range-management practices and techniques were being used to prevent overgrazing of the land and to make optimal use of the pastures. Thousands of hectares of pastureland had been fenced along the coastal regions for use as cattle breeding stations as well as livestock-fattening pens.
Until the 1970s, cattle were used mainly for transport. During the 1970s, the number of cattle--particularly dairy cattle-- increased, as did milk and meat production. By 1985 there were nearly 209,000 head of cattle in the country, and several fodder plants were in various stages of completion as part of an effort to achieve self-sufficiency in animal feedstuffs. The General Dairy and Dairy Products Company was created in 1974 to take over most private dairies and to produce and market all dairy products. Private dairy farms were permitted to operate, but their milk had to be sold to the state company. The government also entered the poultry business on a large scale, and independent farmers found it difficult to compete against the large government poultry farms.
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