Dutch Help for Agricultural Marketing [Archives:1998/09/Business & Economy]

March 2 1998

Ismail Al-Ghabiry of Yemen Times met Mr. Mattheieu Brugman to talk about the first Yemeni-Dutch agriculture show held during 22-27 February in Dhamar.

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about your project?
A: We organized the show here to put Dhamar on the map. Dhamar is seen as a town that is backwards, but I think a number of valid and variable projects take place here. My project is the Agricultural Management Support Project.
The extension training component is located here and assists the Agricultural Research and Extension Authority to improve extension methodology and research. We also train many people and send them abroad to get Ph.Ds.
The show is a very important vehicle to bring into contact with each other the private and public sectors. It is a fine opportunity enabling private companies to have dialogue with public organizations, like government organizations, credit banks and some of the private organizations. We are also presenting the Farmer’s Union and its association, which we see as a very important partner in improving extension to the Yemeni farmers.

Q: Can you tell us about the show?
A: The show itself is a combination of different activities. The main building contains the Trade Fair, where approximately 80 Yemeni and Dutch companies are represented showing a variety of products and services. We also have demonstrations focusing on water conservation in Yemen. For that, we have 4 greenhouses, which are drip irrigated. We also have open field drip irrigation systems, for food trees, tomatoes and green peppers. Water is very scarce in Yemen, but the use of water is still so reckless. Huge quantities of water are wasted on crops that can grow with much less water than they get right now.

Q: What kind of demonstrations are there?
A: Another demonstration we have is competitions for the farmers. They compete for Best Bull, Best Sheep and Best Goat. The quality of the animals in Yemen isn’t very high yet. It is extremely important that the farmers know what a good animal is and how to care for them. The winners of these competitions receive prizes.
There is also a plowing competition. Every farmer plows, but to plow really good you need to control your equipment in a certain way. For this, we have an experienced judge from Taiz to assist in this competition. For the cattle competition, we have special judges from the Netherlands, who will train their Yemeni counterparts at the same time, so Yemeni cattle judges will know exactly how to judge a good animal next year.

Q: Is there any entertainment?
A: There is much entertainment. There is a football tournament, donkey racing, a restaurant, a playground for the children, musical dances, and a traditional Dutch dance group.

Q: Are there any demonstrations for women?
A: For rural women, there will be a special demonstration for specific skills to reduce the phosphorus deficiency in cows. Yemeni farmers need to develop a way to get rid of the problem and demonstrate it in our unit for the rural women.
We have special threshing methods and simple appropriate technical tools to make butter and things like that. These things are purely focusing on rural women. So, I think the show offers a variety of activities and I think everybody can learn something and amuse themselves. I think it will be very successful.

Q: What kinds of projects are planned for 1998?
A: For that question, you should go to the embassy because I haven’t a complete overview of all the Dutch projects. I do know that there are projects in Hodeida, Shabwa and Dhamar. There aren’t many projects for agriculture at the moment.

Q: When will your project end?
A: My project will end April 13th of this year. At least, that is when the finance stops. But, I hope that we get more funds to continue for two years. It depends on a number of factors, which would be better if I explained.
I have an evaluation goal of looking at the project to see if it has been done well and has had some effect on the community. If the outcome is positive, then the project will be extended for two more years. I think it is extremely important to continue because I see new developments, in which the private sector that is working in agriculture will be much more involved in extension and providing farmers with valid, useful information. It is something that the government still has to get used to. They are not too happy about it yet. When you go to Jordan and other Middle Eastern countries, you will see that the private sector plays a much bigger role in agriculture than in Yemen. I like my projects to contribute to the starting of this development. The private sector must be more involved. There is already an example of this in the cooperation between the private sector and the farmers.
The greenhouses are developed, renovated and put into production with the cooperation between Sheba Company, a subsidy from Adhban, and the Research Station Central Highlands. I think that it is the first time this has happened in Yemen and it should happen more often.

Q: Why did you choose Dhamar to host this show?
A: I considered Dhamar because of the Central Highlands Agriculture Center. There are already enough shows in Sanaa and nothing ever happens in Dhamar. The project is here, so the show should also be here. There are many farmers at the show. I donÕt think as many farmers would go if the show was in Sanaa. The object of the show is to get information, entertainment and knowledge to the farmers surrounding Dhamar. Farmers are number 1 in my project.

Q: Will there be any more shows?
A: If my project is extended, we will include enough money to organize next year’s show. A show is planned for 1999 and for 2000. We will try to make enough money from this year’s show so that our Yemeni counterparts can organize one for themselves. We’ve started making money by selling entrance tickets for the big building, that hosts the trade fair.