Genetic research in Saber projectBuilding on Yemen’s agricultural heritage [Archives:2005/817/Local News]

February 18 2005

By Fahmia Al-Fotih
For The Yemen Times

Developing agriculture in the region in Saber District was the topic for a workshop held Feb. 11 under the auspices of the French NGO Iddeales, along with the Yemeni Center for Genetic Resources at the faculty of Agriculture, Sana'a University.

The project is funded by the Social Fund for Development and the French program for supplying food.

Frederic Pelat, Iddeales representative, said this about the French NGO working in agriculture: “We are working with the Yemeni Center for Genetic Resources, Faculty of Agriculture on the project to develop genetic resources and knowledge for farmers.

“In fact, we want to make project to develop and support agriculture, by focusing on local resources and cooperation and exchange between farmers themselves, through local crops and local varieties which are adapted to the local conditions.

“It is a culture and knowledge that has been developed for many centuries and Yemeni farmers have knowledge in that. I think it would be a shame to neglect thes knowledge, yet we think that Yemeni farmers are poor because they don't work. That is completely wrong. They have many things, but the problems these regions are isolated and remote and also the communication.

“We should benefit through this project from exchange between farmers and from more cooperation and from more attention given to these people and their knowledge.”

Pelat added, “It is a pilot project and we have to focus on a place in a region which is famous for rain agriculture and quite representative. A region which is socially easy for us to work. I don't think there has been such project in Yemen. So if we succeed, we can apply this project in other areas and region in Yemen.”

Dr. Al-Hakimi said “It is a pilot project that focuses on developing the genetic plant resources and local experience and knowledge. Farmers, experts, technicians and academics will carry out this project for three years. We meet today to exchange the visions and opinions to implement this project and set the goals, and followed procedures in putting the project into operation. This project is a typical one that should be implemented in a number of areas.”

About choosing Saber for implementing this project AL-Hakimi said, “We have visited Saber many times and through our study for Saber, we realized that Saber has a great variable environment in which various agriculture crops can grow as well as different agricultural activities.

“Besides, we have been greatly welcomed in Saber and we have found all the people cooperative and understanding. We want this project to develop these activities and keep such heritage, and we don't want this agricultural land to be destroyed. We would like to protect our agricultural heritage and plant these concepts in the next generations,” Al Hamimi concluded.