Libya plans to import 1 mln tonnes of wheat in 2012

Libya expects to import 1 million tonnes of wheat in 2012 as production is expected to increase only slightly after last year's civil war, the director of the North African country's authority for cereal production said.

"We expect to import to 1 million tonnes of wheat. It will be done in specific (time) periods as required," Ali Rahuma, director of the authority which comes under Libya's agricultural ministry, told Reuters in an interview on Wednesday.

Libya will produce around 200,000 tonnes of wheat in the 2011/12 crop year, up from around 160,000 to 170,000 tonnes in 2010/11, when an eight-month uprising ousted leader Muammar Gaddafi, he said.

Rahuma cited European countries, Canada and the United States as the potential main grains providers.

Libya mainly produces cereals in the south of the country, where many operations suffered heavy looting of machinery as last year's fighting raged.

"Libya has not yet completely recovered from what happened. We're expecting this year also not to be a very normal year," Rahuma said.

The country plans to increase production in the next eight years as it develops new agricultural projects.

"The government has plans ... to increase production gradually. We think by 2020, we may be able to produce 800,000 tonnes," he said. "We're hoping to increase the production but we're realistic - we cannot envision Libya (being) self-sufficient in food (supplies)."

(Source: Reuters)

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