GIEWS Country Brief: Yemen 21-June-2018

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  • Conflict and natural hazards endanger agricultural livelihoods

  • Below-average cereal harvest estimated for 2017, stable cereal import requirements

  • Almost 18 million people estimated to be food insecure

Conflict and natural hazards endanger agricultural livelihoods

Due to a variety of natural conditions, the calendar of agricultural activities varies greatly depending on the location. In Central Highlands, with two distinct cropping seasons, the second rainy season should start in July and wheat sowing, for harvesting from September, is about to finish. Planting of rainfed sorghum, for harvest from mid-September, started in mid-June. In Southern uplands with one rainy season, planting of wheat, for harvesting from mid-October, started in early June and will continue until mid-July. In the coastal areas, harvesting of sorghum planted in May should start in September.

In late May 2018, heavy rains from weakening cyclones fell along the southeast coastal areas from the Aden to the Oman border and eastern Yemen leading to extensive flooding and damages.
Regular monitoring activities will be required to detect any locust breeding that could occur in the next three months. Cumulative precipitation in the western and central areas, which have not been affected by the cyclones, remains below average to average.

In addition, the persistent conflict continues to seriously compromise agricultural livelihoods and crop production. Shortages and high prices of agricultural inputs are reported in almost all governorates. Agricultural activities, particularly those related to irrigated crops, suffer from high fuel prices, with consequent increases in the share of rainfed crops, which in turn bear lower yields. Many rural households increasingly rely on casual labour opportunities as their main source of income. By contrast, in most conflict-affected areas, hired agricultural labour tends to be replaced by family labour in order to cope with the increased costs of production. The severity of the impact varies across the country.

Below-average cereal harvest and stable import requirement

Total cereal production in 2017 is estimated at 450 000 tonnes, more than 40 percent below the previous year’s harvest and the five-year average.

On average, total domestic cereal production covers less than 20 percent of the total utilization (food, feed and other uses). The country is largely dependent on imports from the international markets to satisfy its domestic consumption requirement for wheat, the main staple. The share of domestic wheat production in total food utilization in the last ten years is between 5 to 10 percent, depending on the domestic harvest.

The import requirement for cereals to guarantee a sufficient calorie intake in the 2018 marketing year (January/December) is estimated at about 4.3 million tonnes, including 3.2 million tonnes of wheat, 700 000 tonnes of maize and 400 000 tonnes of rice.

Between January and March 2018, an estimated 720 000 tonnes of wheat grains and flour as well as 100 000 tonnes of rice were imported to the country. The available import data indicate that the proportion of food imports passing through Hodeidah and Al Salif ports has declined by 11 percent compared to JanuaryOctober 2017 period (FSTS-FSIS Market Bulletin Update, April 2018). It appears that, despite some improvements, the restrictions on offloading certain types of food commodities imposed on the two ports in November 2017 has not yet been fully lifted. Any disruption of trade flows threatens the continuity of market supplies and, consequently, the food security of large numbers of people. As of mid-June 2018, pro-Government forces were attempting to take over the Hodeidah, the most important seaport.

Almost 18 million people estimated to be food insecure

According to the 2018 Humanitarian Needs Overview, approximately 17.8 million Yemenis are estimated to be food insecure, a 5 percent increase over the 2017 estimates. This figure includes 8.4 million people which are considered to be “severely food insecure and at risk of starvation”, about 24 percent more than in 2017.

High food prices continue to limit the households’ access to food. Significant price differences persist among markets and prices across the country are generally well above the pre-crisis levels (February 2015), in some cases have even doubled.

As of early 2018, there were approximately 2 million InternallyDisplaced Persons (IDPs), with the highest number residing in Hajjah, Taiz, Amanat, Al Asimah and Sana’a governorates. Most IDPs are in need of urgent food assistance and they are putting strain on the host communities that are struggling to cope with the already stretched limited resources.

Between April and December 2018, the World Food Programme (WFP) intends to reach an estimated 9.8 million beneficiaries with food assistance, including cash and vouchers, as well as the restoration of livelihood programmes at a total cost of USD 2 billion. In April 2018, WFP assisted 6.8 million people.

Disclaimer: The designations employed and the presentation of material in this information product do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of FAO concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.