Agricultural areas see drop in food production [Archives:2005/836/Business & Economy]

April 25 2005

Mahyoub Al-Kamaly
Yemeni agricultural areas are nowadays witnessing a decline in food production at a time the role of official sides is getting weaker with regard to administration and supervision over agricultural projects. Fertile areas are being swept by planting qat trees, which are non-nutritious, exhausting water reservoirs and affects water basins.

Engineer Hassan Omar Sweid, minister of agriculture and irrigation has urged in his meeting with coordinator of the World Bank in Yemen engineer Naji Abu Hatem to support Sana'a in technical, environmental and social fields regarding water projects, preservation of soil and role of societies specialized in the use of water and how to activate them.

The minister has confirmed the necessity of consolidating cooperation between the ministry and the World Bank in aspects of executing as well as funding water and agricultural projects. He also stressed the possibility of the Bank's contribution to restructure irrigation administration and work for privatization of some of the administrations, activation of role of the irrigation, water projects administration in drawing up plans, strategies to determine projects needed to be implemented and the feasibility expected from them, whether in irrigation or feeding subterranean waters.

On his part the engineer Abu Hatem called the Yemeni side for the necessity of taking care and paying attention to the guidance, awareness and continuous communication with farmers with regard to required technology and modernization as well as modern agricultural ways. Especially since more than 75% of Yemen's population depends on agriculture. In addition, this gives agriculture priority in work and concentration on implementation of water projects, enlightening farmers on the importance of those projects and engages them in the work and supervision over those projects.

The World Bank has decided to dispatch a team in the near future to conduct field visits to a number of areas to get acquainted with the implementation volume of projects and the actual feasibility of them, in addition to define needs of other areas. The team would present results of the visit to the Yemeni minister of agriculture to study and analyze them, then taking necessary arrangements.

It is also expected that the team would meet with some beneficiaries from those projects to closely observe the level of services offered to them and other requirements.