Economy

Yemen's agriculture heavily affected by war

By Faisal Darem in Sanaa

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Yemen's agricultural sector has incurred direct and indirect losses as a result of the ongoing war. [Faisal Darem/Al-Mashareq]

Losses incurred by Yemen's agricultural sector since the outbreak of the war amount to more than $16 billion, according to the Ministry of Agriculture.

This includes direct losses of $2.25 billion, including losses to infrastructure, facilities, crop production, livestock, equipment, means of transport and production supplies.

Indirect losses amount to $13.76 billion, and include losses incurred by governmental and co-operative institutions and farms, as well as crop and production losses, livestock losses, foreign exports and loss of manpower.

Indirect losses represent the larger portion of the total losses, because they affect about 75% of Yemenis, Ministry of Agriculture service sector deputy Mohammed al-Humairi told Al-Mashareq.

These include the loss of jobs, suspension of operations at agricultural facilities, cessation of agricultural investment and drop in production, he said.

Direct losses are a direct consequence of the war, he said, as many farm facilities and buildings owned by public and private agricultural institutions and establishments sustained heavy damage.

Infrastructure damage to roads and bridges also has affected agricultural marketing operations, he added.

Rural residents rely on agriculture

"The indirect losses are multi-faceted and include loss of jobs, as the rural population relies on agriculture for its livelihood," al-Humairi said.

Residents of rural areas constitute 75% of Yemen's total population, he said, and this poses a major threat to their livelihood and food security.

Indirect losses that stem from the war include a rise in the price and scarcity of oil derivatives, he said, as this has led to an increase in the cost of agricultural operations, which rely on diesel fuel in irrigation.

"The high prices of oil derivatives also led to higher prices of agricultural products, due to the threefold increase in transportation costs compared to before the war," he said.

Agricultural services centres that package and prepare products for local and foreign markets also have been affected by the conflict, al-Humairi said.

The agricultural sector has been adversely affected by the total cessation of exports conducted through land ports and airports, said Sanaa University professor of agriculture Abdullah Nasher.

"The scarcity and high prices of oil derivatives have had a negative impact on the farmers’ future planning process," he told Al-Mashareq.

Purchasing power at lowest levels

Nasher said the war has triggered a rise in the prices of raw materials needed in agricultural production, while purchasing power has decreased to its lowest levels.

This combination of events has led to financial losses for farmers, forcing them to suspend their operations, he said.

Economist Abdul Jalil Hassan told Al-Mashareq the losses incurred by the agricultural sector directly impact 75% of Yemenis, who are either farmers or work in industries related to farming.

This poses a threat to the food security of most Yemenis, he said.

Three UN agencies -- the Food and Agriculture Organisation, the World Food Programme and UNICEF -- have warned that the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) rating of Yemenis is now at a critical level, he said.

"Two thirds of the population face the threat of hunger and require urgent assistance to save their lives and livelihoods," he said, calling on humanitarian organisations to help Yemenis and work towards stopping the war.

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