Yemen War Puts 2015 Crop At Risk, Food Stocks Shrink -UN Agency - Gulf Business
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Yemen War Puts 2015 Crop At Risk, Food Stocks Shrink -UN Agency

Yemen War Puts 2015 Crop At Risk, Food Stocks Shrink -UN Agency

With most people living off the land and about 90 per cent of Yemen’s water resources used in agriculture, Yemenis are especially vulnerable when conflicts disrupt farm production.

Conflict in Yemen is disrupting the crop planting season and threatens to create food shortages as the war-stricken country eats into its cereal reserves, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said on Wednesday.

Yemen’s cereal stocks stood at around 860,000 tonnes when Saudi-led air strikes against Iran-allied Houthi rebels started, enough for three to four months, FAO Assistant Director-General for North Africa and the Near East, Abdessalam Ould Ahmed, said.

The cereals were mostly wheat, but also included rice and maize, he said.

“We are very much concerned by the fact that this country may not be able to sustain imports while reserves of food are shrinking as conflict drags on,” Ould Ahmed said by telephone.

An alliance of Arab states has been bombing Shi’ite Muslim Houthi militias and troops loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh for weeks to try to stop them from seizing the southern port city of Aden.

Ould Ahmed said traffic had been disrputed since the start of the Saudi-led campaign on March 26.

“There are significant concerns that food availability will become less and less inside the country,” he said.

Yemen imports about 90 per cent of its wheat needs and 100 per cent of its rice although nearly two-thirds of Yemenis work in agriculture.

FAO said earlier in a statement on Wednesday it was concerned the air strikes came at a time when farmers were preparing their land for planting and threatened the 2015 crop.

With most people living off the land and about 90 per cent of Yemen’s water resources used in agriculture, Yemenis are especially vulnerable when conflicts disrupt farm production.

The U.N. agency has been working since 2014 to support Yemeni farmers but it says only $4 million of the required $12 million have been made available for its livelihood programmes.

Nearly half of Yemen’s 26 million people are classified as severely food insecure, while 16 million are in need of some form of humanitarian aid and have no access to safe water, the FAO said.

Food imports into the Arab world’s poorest country began grinding to a halt a week after the Saudi-led coalition began its operations in Yemen, putting fragile supply chains under growing strain and forcing commercial suppliers to stay away.

Yemen’s National Food Security Strategy, set up as a response to a spike in global food prices in 2008, aimed to cut food insecurity by a third by 2015 and to make 90 percent of the population food secure by 2020.

But the strategy, which included plans to set up a strategic grain reserve, has been severely hampered by the instability plaguing Yemen since street protests ousted former president Al Abdullah Saleh in 2011.

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