Qat agriculture employs 25% of labour force [Archives:2004/774/Business & Economy]

September 20 2004

Mahyoub Al-Kamaly
The agriculture and marketing of qat plant in Yemen guarantees the employment of about 25% of the Yemeni labour force. The agriculture of qat which is a non-nutritious plant provides 4% of the gross domestic product and the public consider it as creating intensive job opportunities and that if they don't plant and market it the result would mean and lead to social congestions and would double the rates of poverty greatly.
A new study on qat agriculture in Yemen prepared by the ministry of planning and inter national cooperation has confirmed that the advance of qat agriculture on arable lands is continuous and this would lead to receding of the volume of agricultural production in Yemen.
The study has clarified that the amount of agricultural production has last year decreased to 3.6 million tons, compared to 3.7 million tons in 2002. At the same time, the rate of growth reached at 3.8%, which is much lower than the targeted one until the end of next year that is planned to be at 6%.
The area of arable land has retreated from 146 thousand hectares while the agricultural area of the land good for the increase of production amounts to 4% of the total area of Yemen.
The study has also disclosed a retreat in production of cereals by 25% and beans by 1.75% whereas the production of fruits increased by 2.2% and vegetables by 1.7%. On the other hand, Yemen's imports last year have recorded an increase by about YR 104.5 billion and the value of exports YR 29 billion. The balance of trade has registered a minus rate in favour of the external origins exporting to Yemen by 75%.
Despite of that the agricultural sector is still accommodating 50% of workforce and the qat plant dominates the bigger proportion as 25% of the workforce in the country work in its agriculture.