Grapes Sowing in Yemen:  Lack of Water, Aphids Problems,  and Marketing Difficulty [Archives:2000/15/Last Page]

April 10 2000

Hassan Al-Zaidi,
Yemen Times

Grapes is one of the best crops in Yemen. Since a long period of time, Yemen has been considered as one of the famous countries for grapes and coffee sowing. During fall season Yemeni markets are full of grapes. It is common knowledge that grapes are available for two months because it is a seasonal crop.
Grapes are usually sowed in comparatively cold areas as Sana’a and the neighboring areas. But the most famous area for grapes cultivation is “Bani Hoshaish”, 50kms to the east of Sana’a. The other area well known for this is Khaolan. Grapes vines occupy 70% of the total cultivable soil area. This crop depends mainly on rainfall. Lands growing grapes are largely in the possession of private individuals because there are no companies interested for this purpose.
I visited some of those areas and found that farmers are facing many problems in sowing grapes. I met a number of farmers who voiced many problems they are facing.
Ali Bin Ali Hamoud Musa’ed: Bani Hoshaish Area (Assur valley):
” In the summer season of every year, farmers cut the extra branches of the main truck. After rainfall, grapes plants spirant and bear bunches of grapes. But this year, grapes did not grow up quickly because of the cold, and lack of adequate rain. Those farmers who have tanks, their farms are well-cultivated, but other areas are dry because of unavailability of water. When bunches of grape grow up, we spread smooth mud on them once in twelve days. This year we started doing this process on April 15, but the grapes will become ripe in July. The mud that we spread on grapes protect the crop from diseases. If we do not spread mud, bunches of grapes would turn black and fall down. Some farmers use herbicide to protect grapes from diseases, but mud is better than this herbicide. The other crucial problem that farmers face is aphid that eat away grape fruit. Last year, Ministry of Agriculture provided cars to irrigate farms, but this year we have not received any assistance yet.”

Hussein Mohammed Abu Ali: “Farmers who have pumps started irrigating their lands one month ago. We can have a nice harvest if the Ministry of Agriculture pays more attention to help farmers to get over plant diseases. There is no awareness created among farmers by specialists in the Ministry of Agriculture. So the farmers depend on their experiences. When grapes become ripe, we take it marketing. We hope to export it, but there are no facilities for this offered by the authorities. In spite of the high quality of Yemeni grapes, companies are not willingly undertake its export. The other problem is that grapes do not fetter a competitive price during its harvest season because it ripe at many areas at the same time. In this case most farmers fail to get a remunerative price for their crops. When the price of grape becomes cheaper, farmers start seasoning grapes into raisins”.

There are so many other problems for promoting grapes cultivation as lack of water. We find many areas suffer from lack of water. Some farmers do not have the means to drill water wells and buy pumps because the underground water is about 400 meters deep. It is worth mentioning that qat trees exhaust a lot of water because farmers get more profit from qat than grapes cultivation.
Negligence of the government is one of the main problems that confronts farmers in these areas.
Marketing Problem:
We find that marketing of grapes is one of the formidable problems faced by vegetable farmers in Mareb, Hodeidah, and Sad’da. From my point of view, I request the government to provide refrigerators to store fruits and vegetables. They should store products instead of wasting them, in order to reduce suffering of farmers. It is deplorable that the government does not pay any attention to agriculture and farmers. If the government wants to develop and strengthen its economy, it should pay more attention to agriculture. Agriculture is the main factor for the country’s economy.