Agriculture and Sustainable Development
: A case study of Agrarian change in Libya

  • Ahmed Gharira

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


A major challenge facing many oil-dependent economies is the task of easing dependency on a single resource through diversification. This case study traces developments in the Libyan economy over the past seventy years which has witnessed a shift from reliance on agriculture to increased dependency on oil revenues. Prior to the discovery of large reserves of oil in the 1950s, the Libyan economy had been reliant on its agriculture sector for its domestic food
security as well as on exports such as olive oil and wheat. As the extent of Libya’s oil reserves became clearer, the nation’s economy became increasingly dependent on revenues derived from a single resource. With the realisation that an economy founded on a single non-renewable resource was not sustainable, efforts to ease this dependency through diversification were undertaken.

This study considers three principal phases in Libya’s economic development, defined in terms of pre-Gaddafi, the Gaddafi period and the post-Gaddafi scenario. Whilst other oil-dependent economies had made significant progress in diversifying their economic structures, efforts to do so in Libya have been hampered by civil unrest and political instability. This study considers the feasibility of exploiting Libya’s potential for agricultural development, especially by revitalising the cultivation of crops such as olives, wheat and dates which are suited by the climatic conditions of the country aided by irrigation projects. The case study is based on a mixed methods approach which combines and triangulates data from three main sources: primary data obtained from interviews with policymakers and farmers’ responses to a survey
in addition to secondary data gleaned from government policies and statistics. The findings, present a realistic appraisal of the country’s precarious economic situation, but also provides recommendations for utilising current revenues from oil to revive the country’s potential for ensuring food security for its citizens and shifting towards improving its potential to become an exporter of agricultural products once again.
Date of Award22 May 2023
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorKalim Siddiqui (Main Supervisor)

Cite this