Hajj Ahmad Sayed, 61 years old, was one of hundreds of farmers who benefited from the distribution of fertilizer and seeds, which was implemented by UNDP in late 2012 in northern governorate of Sa’ada, Yemen.
After three years of the last round of conflict in Sa’ada, the economic recovery remains fragile. Agriculture, which represents 90 per cent of Sa’ada's economy and employs 80 per cent of the workforce, struggle with numerous challenges mainly the major depletion of water resources and the high cost of inputs especially fuel, seeds and fertilizer. As a result, repeated seasons of failure, many farmers were seriously thinking about quitting agriculture altogether. The problem is that there is no alternative livelihood.
‘During harvesting, majority of the farmers leave the apples in the field to rot, while some collect and use them as feed for cattle and hogs’ Haj Ahmad complained about the obstacles facing farmers Sa’ada.
He added, ‘the government does not provide any support for farmers. Thirty years ago, we found water at only 9 meter, but nowadays we have to dig to 120 meter. High cost of diesel needed to operate pumps from artesian wells’.
In Sa’ada, the main obstacles facing farmers are high cost of agriculture inputs especially fuel, seeds and fertilizer. Besides, there is no cold storage in Sa’ada to preserve products. That is why farmers forced to sell the fruits and vegetables at very low price, which in many cases, below the cost or letting them rot like Haj Ahmad. This problem still exists to now.
‘In December 2012, I received – from UNDP- seeds and fertilizer, which are important inputs for farming. This assistance helped me to recover some losses I made in the beginning of 2012’. The estimated cost of these assistance (at that time) was 25,000 YR (approximately 125 USD).
‘I utilized the fertilizer in my apple farm, while I kept the seeds to maize planting season in April’.
More than 1,500 households were provided with agricultural inputs including 120 metric tonnes of corn seeds and 240 metric tonnes of fertilize. The inputs will allow an increase of above 20 per cent in maize production during the rainy season as part livelihood revival efforts.
The aim of UNDP project is not only to provide vulnerable farmers with inputs that are often beyond their economic means, but also to encourage them to work through government institutions and support their efforts to strengthen the seed systems in the conflict governorate of Sa’ada.
Agriculture plays an important role in Yemen’s economy: although it contributes only to 15 percent of national GDP, it employs more than half of the labor force and provides livelihood to more than two-thirds of the population. In the long-term, improved agricultural output offers the quickest fix for poverty and hunger.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) 2004 Food Insecurity Report, all the countries that are on track to reach the first Millennium Development Goal have something in common; significantly better than average agricultural growth. However, Yemen is facing a serious challenge in this regard as it lacks key agricultural infrastructure, such roads, warehouses and irrigation systems resulting in high transport costs, lack of storage facilities and unreliable water supplies. However, UNDP’s project has helped more than 1500 farmers like Haj Ahmad to re-establish their agro- businesses after years of war. He and farmers like him can now cope with the situation and continue generations of tradition as farmers and producers.
- More than 1,500 households were provided with agricultural inputs including 120 metric tonnes of corn seeds and 240 metric tonnes of fertilizer
- Agricultural Inputs will allow an increase of above 20% in maize production during the rainy season as part livelihood revival efforts