Bridging the Gap Between Production and Consumption of Cereals [Archives:2002/02/Business & Economy]

January 7 2002

Mahyoub Al-Kamali
A number of studies has recently been focusing on the possibility of Yemen achieving self-sufficiency of cereals and foodstuffs. In a related study Professors Naser al-Owlaki and Hameed Galab from the Sanaa University said there were new mechanisms to increase the production of cereals to meet the demand of the crazy population growth. Dr. Nasser al-Awlaki, Rector of the Ibb University calculated in a study that after ten years Yemen would need at least 8 million tons of cereals annually, while the current production did not exceed 148 thousand tons, a fact that would be affecting the life of the Yemeni people. Although, the study urged for increasing the production of cereals, it said that would not be an easy task owing to the high cost of production, employment, as well as the tendency of farmers to grow more profitable crops such as fruits, vegetables and/or Qat.
The population explosion in Yemen is matched with a visible deterioration in the agricultural activity. Out of the 1,6 million Hectares of arable lands only 1,2 hectares are cultivated. Besides, water shortage, lack of good agricultural services and related researches, production expensive requirements and marketing problems, all tend to decrease the agricultural products which do not cover even 7 percent of the local consumption, especially of cereals. This has led to a sharp increase in importation of such products.
The food problem is quite acute in the Yemeni community. Solutions to this problem are not as difficult as they may appear. The most important of these are to reduce the food gap through promoting the production capacity, organizing the agricultural activities, and limiting the spread of qat. Above all, the local production should be supported through the application of modern technologies pertaining to agricultural production and marketing. Official statistics emphasize that investment in the agricultural sector will decrease the gap between food production and consumption. Studies reveal that using scientific and technological techniques particularly using dry proof ways, land reforms will, of course, have good results.
To face the problem of food scarcity in Yemen, there should be some plans to tackle the problem of the population growth, deterioration of the arable land and to give more attention to maritime resources.