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Palm wine in Libya

Palm wine in Libya

Trop Agric 34(4): 295-309

The date palm is widely tapped for its sap in North Africa but not in Arabia, Iraq or Persia. Tapping is common in Libya in all 3 provinces. The sweet sap contains about 10% sucrose and is called lagbi, which name is also used for it when after a few hours it has fermented and become an alcoholic drink. In Libya lagbi is not used for sugar making. The annual production of this liquor on the coast of Tripolitania is about 17,500 hectolitres of a retail value of over B 10,000. The production of this drink in the Fezzan may be as much but that of Cyrenaica is less. Mortality amongst palms tapped may be about 5%. The same palm is not usually tapped more than two or three times in its life. Tapping in summer gives a much greater yield of sap than tapping in winter. On the coast of Tripolitania the legal tapping period is 42 days. In the Fezzan there are no restrictions. The first recorded mention of lagbi in modern times in a European language found by the present writer is that of Redi in 1666. There are several later references mostly by travellers who mention lagbi only incidentally.

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