Gradual Deterioration of Arable Land [Archives:2000/35/Culture]

August 28 2000

Hasan Al-Zaidi
Yemen Times
Agricultural statistics for 1999 indicated a gradual deterioration of arable land against the total area of Yemen. Only 1,132,910 Hectares (68%) of the total arable land, estimated at 1,668,858 Hectares, were cultivated in 1999.
The statistics classified arable land into pluvious land constituting 528,642 Hectares (47%) of the total arable land, well-irrigated land which extend over 434,207 hectares (38%,) spring-irrigated land, 40,801 Hectares (4%,) Floods-irrigated, 129,259 Hectares (11%,) while the remaining 535,948 Hectares (32%) were not cultivated.
Deterioration was clear in comparison with 1998 in which about 1,279,704 (76,7%) of the total arable land was cultivated. Agricultural production fell from 3,756, 279 tons in 1998 to 3,661,368 tons in 1999.
The drop in the agricultural production resulted from fluctuating production of some corps, specially wheat, which depends on rain, said Eng. Abdul Malik Qassem Al-Thawr, director general of planning in the Ministry of Agriculture. He added that about 2,8 million m3 of water is used annually for irrigation while the annual quantity of renewable water is 2,1 million m3.
More than 75% of Yemens population lives on agriculture. Agriculture work force is estimated at 56%. It helps form about 17% of the country national production.
Population of Yemen increases at the rate of 3,7% a year. This means that by 2010 the population of Yemen will exceed 36 million which necessitates development of the agricultural sector to cover all the needs of increasing number of people.
Mr. Al-thawr criticized the vision of Ministry of Planning presented by its Minister Ahmad Sofan which suggests decreasing agricultural activities urging re-construction of the agricultural sector. He also criticized absence of private investment in this sphere.
Loans are offered for agricultural projects. These reached USD 724,275,154 in 1998 out of which USD 535,265,674 were spent on agricultural projects through the Ministry of Agricultural.
The Agricultural Credit Bank and the Social Development Fund offer loans for farmers to improve their products and to cultivate land. However complicated routine adopted by the bank discourage any cooperation with farmers.