Brazil's Embrapa (Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation) is interested in participating in an agricultural project in Libya, an Arab country located in North Africa. According to the coordinator at Embrapa-Africa, Cláudio Bragantini, the unit, based in Accra, Ghana, is seeking to contact the Libyan government.
Embrapa wishes to offer Brazilian technology to The Great Man-Made River, a project for an artificial river in the desert, along which agricultural plantations are developed.
The river, according to Bragantini, has 10,000 hectares of irrigation pivots, and brings water from arid regions to Tripoli, capital of the Arab country.
"We possess tropical technology, and I am certain that we can be of assistance to them," claims Bragantini. Brazil is a global leader in tropical technology, as a result of the effort it has made to develop agriculture in its semiarid lands, which are similar to those found in the Arab countries.
The artificial river project in Libya, conceived in 1983 and still under implementation, is primarily based on extraction of underground water for use in plantations, industry and consumption.
According to information from the Website of the Great Man-Made River Authority (GMRA), a government organization that controls the project, more than 70% of water generated by the river should be destined to agriculture. The aim, once the project is fully implemented, is to generate water for irrigating 130,000 hectares of farming land.
The project should absorb total investment of US$ 19.55 billion. Part of the funding comes from the population, such as money from taxes on fuels, cigarettes and international trips, and another part comes from banking loans and the Union treasury.
The river was designed to help solve water scarcity problems in Libya, and the project was conceived based on the discovery, during oil drilling operations in the Libyan desert, of sweet water aquifers at depths lower than 100 meters.
Water is extracted from four underground basins: Kufra, Sirt, Murzuk and Hamadh. In total, they contain from 10,000 to 12,000 kilometers of economically extractable water.
According to the GMRA Website, the conclusion was reached that water extraction and transport to urban centers was more viable than other alternatives, such as desalination or commuting in order to use the water in the desert itself.
In Libya, average annual rainfall ranges from 10 to 500 millimeters (0.4 to 20 inches). Only 5% of the country's territory has rains above 100 millimeters (3.9 inches).