Libya is one of the wealthiest countries when it comes to oil, but the pollution from the oil fields is causing trouble for local farmers.
One farmer, Ahmed Amora, complained about crop losses despite having a farm in one of the most fertile regions of Libya. His farm is located only six miles away from the oil fields, which surround him on all sides, and the groundwater pollution caused by outdated waste disposal methods used there affects his produce.
Amora described the pollution’s impact: “It affected tomato production and the production of various vegetables. The pollution is coupled with a lack of attention from the state, which does not care about us farmers.”
“I have been a farmer for 14 years,” he continued. “I have taken a serious hit because of the pollution and the state’s lack of interest in the environment, which has been polluted by oil, impacting the three oases in the (Al-Wahat) region.”
Libya has the world’s largest-ninth known oil reserves and the most extensive ones in Africa, where much of the cultivated land is too dry. Moreover, the little groundwater that remains is often contaminated by oil waste.
Farmers complain that the government is not doing enough to support the farmers whose livelihood is endangered. However, one environmental organization, Al-Rukab, is taking action.
“Pollutants can spread in the air and end up being deposited on agricultural crops,” one member of Al-Rukab, Akram Rogaia, said. “Pollutants can also spread through water which ends up being mixed with surface water.”
“This is the damage that we are trying to avoid, and that is our concern with this water.”