Climate Change Devastates Agriculture in Raymah

Raymah Farmers Struggle as Climate Change Ravages Crops and Land
Hashed Alshebli
July 4, 2024

Climate Change Devastates Agriculture in Raymah

Raymah Farmers Struggle as Climate Change Ravages Crops and Land
Hashed Alshebli
July 4, 2024

The Governorate of Raymah in western Yemen is experiencing fluctuating waves of climate change, particularly due to a lack of preparedness before the rainy seasons. This has resulted in large swathes of agricultural land being buried, in addition to affecting crop yields due to changes in planting and harvesting times.

This situation also deprives many farmers of the benefits of agriculture yields, such as fodder and grains, posing a future food crisis that affects both humans and animals, according to agricultural experts and researchers.

Raymah Governorate in western Yemen is considered one of the Yemeni governorates experiencing a severe climate crisis. According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the cultivated areas have decreased, and the cultivation of some grains has stopped due to high fuel prices and severe drought conditions.

Hailstones inundate agricultural terraces-Raymah

In this context, agricultural engineer Mansour Al-Jahmi told "Khuyut" that climate changes are closely linked to the increase in the numbers of locusts and plant worms. These adverse weather phenomena create favorable conditions for pest proliferation, leading to agricultural and food insecurity. Moreover, weather events such as floods and hurricanes are now occurring more frequently, causing widespread damage to Yemen's infrastructure, disrupting essential services, and displacing local community residents.

Likewise, climate change threatens food security stability in Yemen. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), its impacts, risks, and repercussions push two-thirds of the country's population toward hunger and food insecurity, especially since three out of four Yemenis depend on agriculture and livestock for their survival.

High Costs and Lack of Assistance

Naseem Al-Sharaf, a 33-year-old farmer from Al-Jabahi village in Al-Salafiya district, Raymah Governorate, western Yemen, is one of the farmers whose agricultural lands have been extensively buried by floods, as seen in the video. He says, "The amount of rainfall has increased significantly in recent years, occurring at unpredictable and unusual times, accompanied by an increase in flash floods, especially in summer. This has led to the burial of large parts of agricultural land, causing me to lose more than 40% of my total agricultural land over the past four years, which has forced me to rely more on purchasing grains and livestock fodder from markets at very high prices."

“In recent periods, the rainfall has been accompanied by falling hailstones, causing damage to agricultural crops and the weakening of crops, making them unable to withstand wind and drought, which they faced after the hailstone rains.”

At the same time, Yemen faces various environmental challenges, most notably climate change, which will have a severe impact on the region due to its dry climate and scarcity of water sources, according to a report from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.

The report adds, "Climate change directly and indirectly impacts agricultural production due to changes in rainfall patterns, droughts, floods, and geographic redistribution of pests and diseases, making it difficult to eradicate hunger as part of sustainable development without addressing climate change."

Moreover, Al-Sharaf complains about the lack of necessary assistance from the agricultural office in the governorate to support farmers affected by the climate changes taking place in the governorate, especially with the high rental prices for machines specialized in removing flood residues and reclaiming agricultural lands. Speaking to "Khuyut," he said, "When I tried to rent a tractor to remove flood residues and reclaim the buried lands, the prices were very high; the hourly rate for the tractor was 30,000 Yemeni Riyals (approximately $57), which rendered me unable to complete the reclamation of the buried lands amid the high rental prices for flood residue machines, in addition to the high prices of fertilizers that improve the soil after being buried by floods.

Hailstone Rain and Environmental Risks

Actually, farmers in Raymah Governorate do not receive any attention from the governmental authorities responsible for environmental protection, nor is there any proactive government plan to address climate change, which poses a serious threat to Yemen's future, according to experts and specialists.

The impact of climate change is greatly exacerbated in communities suffering from prolonged conflict, especially with the lack of resources to help confront the climate crisis, pushing Yemeni society to the brink of collapse. Further, Yemen ranked second out of 116 countries in terms of food insecurity, according to the 2021 Global Hunger Index. Yemen is also ranked 22nd among the most vulnerable countries and 12th among the least prepared to face climate change, despite being one of the least contributing countries to greenhouse gas emissions responsible for climate change.

Hailstones and Heavy Rainfall Submerge Areas in Raymah

Likewise, farmer Naseem Ali, another resident of Raymah, was also affected by climate change, especially by rains accompanied by hailstones (small ice balls that sometimes accompany rainfalls). He tells "Khuyut": "In recent periods, rainfall has been accompanied by hailstones, causing the weakening of crops and making them unable to withstand wind and drought, which they faced after the hailstone rains."

Professor of Agriculture at Sana'a University, Mohammed Al-Amoudi, emphasizes in his interview with "Khuyut" the importance of supporting farmers by providing machinery specialized in removing flood residues and fertilizers that treat agricultural land after it is exposed to floods, in addition to awareness campaigns to help them deal with the impacts of climate changes affecting farming seasons and rainfall.

On the other hand, Yemen seems incapable of facing the effects and risks of climate change alone, which threatens it more than the ongoing war itself, making such a problem even more complicated. According to the First National Communication estimates, the climate is expected to change significantly by 2050, with temperatures expected to increase by 1.4 to 2.8 degrees Celsius during this period, and rainfall expected to decrease by at least 24% or increase by 50% at most.

Al-Amoudi believes that Yemen's response to climate change and protection of food security require developing sustainable adaptation strategies to these changes, including improving water resource management, promoting sustainable agriculture, using innovative agricultural techniques, encouraging biodiversity, finding solutions to reduce drought, and making optimal use of available resources.

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