Al-Jawf 's Tomato Harvest Goes To Waste

Obstacles Cause Huge Losses to Farmers
Louay Sultan
February 17, 2023

Al-Jawf 's Tomato Harvest Goes To Waste

Obstacles Cause Huge Losses to Farmers
Louay Sultan
February 17, 2023
Photo by: Mohamed Al-Selwi - © Khuyut

The farmer, Saleh Humran's dream of making a profit this season from the tomato crop that he grows in Al-Jawf Governorate (east of Yemen) has vanished, due to the closure of the export ports and the complexity of the roads, including Haradh and Al-Wadea border crossings, as a result of the war and the ongoing conflict in the country since 2015.

This caused huge losses to farmers, not only in Al-Jawf governorate but also in various agricultural production areas in Yemen, especially in light of the remarkable interest that this governorate has been experiencing in the agricultural sector for nearly three years.

Humran says to "Khuyut,"  that he suffered a heavy loss, as other farmers had, after the tomato crop that he grows, experienced an abundance of production this year; however, he expected, according to his speech, a profit amounting to 30 million riyals, but that went unheeded, and he incurred heavy losses.

Likewise, the farmer attributes the reason to the war and the ongoing conflict in the country, and the consequences of that in closing the governorate’s ports with Saudi Arabia, without taking the interests of farmers into account. In addition to the complex export procedures, and the lack of markets and central refrigerators for preserving products, indicating that this has pushed the prices of products to the lowest level, while traders buy them at low prices and sell them later in the cities' markets.

Frustrated Feelings

In view of the low prices of the tomato crop in the governorate’s markets, feelings of frustration arise among farmers, who fear that their products have become susceptible to spoilage, especially in the absence of central refrigerators for preservation. So, farmers are between two options, both of which are bitter: either sell their crops at the price determined by the buyer himself or make them susceptible to spoilage.

The tomato product does not bear the transportation and packaging procedures,  because it is perishable, unlike other products such as fruits, like apples and oranges, whose packaging process is appropriate for export procedures.

Similarly, Mohammed Afraj, another farmer, the continued closure of the export ports cost him unexpected losses as well, after the price of a basket of tomatoes decreased this season from 20,000 riyals before closing the ports to 800 riyals now, as most of his agricultural products were exported to Saudi Arabia.

Afraj tells sadly, in a statement to “Khuyut”, of losing hope in cultivating his fields in the next season, after he suffered a great loss, pointing out that the profit he was getting before closing the ports, from selling tomatoes with an area of ​​500 square meters, ranged between 130 million and  140 million riyals. As for now, he does not have the capital to cover the expenses that he incurred this season.

Subsequently, these costly losses of tomatoes and other crops prompted the farmers in Al-Jawf to launch an appeal to the competent authorities in order to quickly address this problem, in addition to facilitating the export procedures, opening ports, establishing central markets, and providing central refrigerators to protect products from spoilage.

Furthermore, activating local factories to absorb the products, including a tomato recycling factory (sauce), which serves as an alternative plan in case the products are accumulated or stacked to avoid being damaged or spoiled.

Complex Procedures

In the context, Adnan Sorour, the media official at Al-Irtiqaa central market in Al-Jawf governorate, which is a newly established market for the purpose of facilitating export procedures in the governorate, confirms in a statement to "Khuyut", that there are many challenges and difficulties facing the process of exporting tomatoes, in light of the current road conditions and the complexities of travel that takes many hours.

In addition to the fact that the tomato product does not bear the transportation and packaging procedures, because it is perishable, unlike other products, such as fruits like apples and oranges, whose packaging process is appropriate for export procedures.

On the other hand, Sorour points out that there are no suitable means of transportation to preserve the tomato product, including trucks that have central refrigerators that preserve the product from spoilage, indicating that this is one of the reasons why farmers incur losses and their products accumulate, especially during this season.

Therefore, in order to avoid this, Sorour stresses the importance of creating operation rooms to coordinate and follow up on the markets in all governorates, knowing their needs and informing the operation room in order for the products to be distributed in all governorates, instead of accumulating them in a limited markets, which leads to accumulation and stagnation of products.

However, it is worth mentioning that there are preparations underway, as confirmed by informed sources to "Khuyut,"  to restart the Bajel factory for food industries in Al-Hodeidah governorate (northwest of Yemen), which, if restarted, will absorb part of the tomato crop and recycle it, which will mitigate the suffering of farmers and avoid the losses they incur.

Louay Sultan

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