Yemen is currently witnessing a widespread drought due to the late rains, which constituted a source of concern for farmers, and exacerbated their suffering due to the delay in the planting season. This prompting many farmers either to put the seeds and plow the land, or to resort to selling livestock at low prices after they were unable to buy fodder for their livestock.
The summer season is much later this year, contrary to farmers' expectations which prompted some of them to plow the land and sow the seeds more than a month ago which the seasonal time they used to plant their land annually. In addition, the decrease in annual rainfall level from what was usual in the summer in Yemen, according to the agricultural calendar that farmers in the countryside are still dealing with - constituted a source of concern threatening their agricultural production.
Mohammad Ali al-Qawsi, a farmer from the city of Hajjah, told Khuyut that: “This year we plowed the land and sowed the seeds, but the lack of rain and the delay in the seasonal rainfall hindered our agricultural activity.” This farmer sees that this portends a catastrophe that spoils the seeds, then they will not be able to bear this disaster, especially in light of the situation that the country is going through from war, conflict and economic crisis.
Yemen is going through extensive climatic changes, deterioration of arable lands, successive crises in fuel and a number of challenges facing the agricultural sector, which is the largest operational sector of the workforce in the country.
According to al-Qawsi, Yemen has not witnessed a drought year like this throughout the past seasons, when this time comes and the agricultural harvest season has entered, but the situation is different this year, in which the Yemenis faced many challenges and many tragedies that varied between the lack of rain and the high prices of oil derivatives and the costs of irrigation water which portends the death of seeds in the soil.
An Escalating Crisis
This drought and desertification that Yemen is experiencing coincides with global climatic changes, and at a time when the countries of the world intend to develop solutions and treatments to the drought crisis, solutions are absent in Yemen to address this threat that threatens food security and agricultural families in the countryside. As these farmers considered the most dependent on the agricultural and vegetable sector for their livelihood.
In this context, the expert in the General Authority for Agricultural Research, Abdullah Mufarreh, states to "Khuyut", that; the current drought crisis is attributed to the delay in facing the consequences of this problem and finding appropriate solutions to deal with climatic changes, although these solutions should have been taken long ago from the occurrence of drought. There are set of measures that could have been taken including: Preserving and regulating the use of groundwater to avoid wasting it, and enacting laws that would preserve groundwater, building dams, terraces and water barriers, and paying attention to local varieties of cereal crops and legumes that tolerate drought and water scarcity.
Furthermore, Mufarreh stressed on the need to urge farmers who own wells, whether manual or artesian, to rationalize the use of water, and switch to modern irrigation methods, distillation, sprinkler, etc., as well as not draining the water in the watering and irrigation of the “Qat” tree, which drains 50% of the quantities of the underground water.
On the other hand, agricultural research confirms that Yemen falls within the arid and semi-arid region, which leads to little and seasonal rainfall. The ancient history tells that Yemenis built dams, water barriers, watering holes and ponds in order to harvest rainwater, but in the current situation there are no solutions to avoid the food crisis.
Yemen is going through extensive climatic changes, deterioration of arable lands, successive crises in fuel and a number of challenges facing the agricultural sector, which is the largest operating sector of the workforce in the country.
In an interview with "Khuyut", agricultural researcher Mohammad Saleh Hatem stresses the need for rapid and urgent intervention by the competent public authorities to providing loans for farmers and providing solar energy systems as well as modern irrigation methods to farmers, in addition to facilitating the purchase of modern irrigation systems by traders.
There is a noticeable absence of cooperative societies specialized in the agricultural aspect, especially in the current stage, which Hatem believes has exacerbated the suffering of the agricultural sector, which during previous periods in Yemen relied on cooperatives to support and promote agricultural sector. Therefore, the current situation requires the establishment of more cooperative societies which can support and educate farmers on the significance to rationalize the use of groundwater, as well as spread awareness on the climate changes in agricultural seasons and how to deal with it.
Hatem concludes by saying: "A part of the endowment resources must be allocated and directed towards agriculture, specifically water resources at the present time, to save the grain crops that were sown by farmers through cooperative societies."
The United Nations dedicates June 17 of each year as the International Day to Combat Drought and Desertification, which focuses on supporting efforts that contribute to promoting land restoration, adding economic resilience, creating job opportunities, and contributing to raising incomes and increasing food security level.