What Do Yemeni Grape Farmers Need?

August 27, 2020

The farmer community in Yemen is facing the worst season of grape farming as they continue to reel under the pressures of a fuel crises and the ongoing civil war.

A fuel crisis has prevented the water pumps from working. This leads to water shortage for the grape harvest which needs an abundant supply for their ripening.

But the farmers are not complaining as of now because last week, rains have helped them a lot.

Most of these farmers are poor and cannot afford fuel. Due to the ongoing war, fuel is only available in the black market, which is too expensive for the farmers to afford.

This also creates a situation where the farmers cannot sell grapes overseas either. The Yemen economy has been crippled due to the ongoing war. Foreign interference has further exasperated the war like situation, robbing the Yemenis of their livelihood which primarily comprises agriculture and oil export.

Yemen’s war erupted in late 2014 when the Iran-backed Houthi rebels seized much of the country’s north and forced the Saudi Arabian-backed government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi out of Sanaa.  According to formal statistics shared by the United Nations, the five-year-long war that started in 2015, nearly 20 million Yemenis have been pushed to the brink of famine as the situation is getting worse by the day.

A good grape season falls between July and October. While the harvest has been good for the farmers, there is no way to sell it and make a living. The farmers that are trying to sell thousands of tons of grapes during this harvest season are facing a low demand. Further, market prices are far below the costs of production.

It a dire situation for the grape farmers. Due to the Covid-19 situation, the demand for grapes and related wines, etc has also dropped dramatically. Yemeni farmers have received help from various humanitarian organizations but that is not enough. FAO and the European Union (EU) partnered to roll out a two-year USD 12.8 million project to enhance the resilience of 150 990 conflict-affected Yemenis while boosting their food security.

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has also tried and help Yemeni farmers through solar powered water pumps that have helped restore their agricultural livelihoods.

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