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Sowing new farming practices helps reap success

A man in a field of corn

Salem proudly shows millet and sorghum crops from his farm

Salem proudly shows millet and sorghum crops from his farm

Yemen continues to face the world’s largest humanitarian crisis, with high levels of acute food insecurity. Two million out of nearly eight million people living in the southern parts of the country are estimated to be severely food insecure. Prolonged conflict, as well as high food prices, depreciation of the local currency and disrupted public institutions, including the agricultural sector, are the major drivers of acute food insecurity. In 2020 the intensified fighting, along with the COVID-19 pandemic, devastating flooding and the unprecedented desert locust upsurge, has further exacerbated pre-existing vulnerabilities in the country.

Most Yemeni people who work in agriculture do not have access to the things they need to successfully cultivate. Price instability and fuel shortages continue to impact seed quality and the availability of much-needed services such as water, transportation and electricity. As a result, many farmers fled their hometowns in the countryside in search of livelihood opportunities, leaving behind their farms.

Villages in Rasad and Sarar districts in Abyan governorate were once known for their excellent millet and sorghum crops. Nearly half of the residents there depend on agriculture as the main source of income. Yet the conflict, together with the economic recession, has limited their access to seeds and cultivation supplies.

A woman wearing a black head scarf standing in a field
Ghanya standing in her field

“Farming isn’t just my main means of earning a living; it’s a passion that I inherited from my ancestors,” says 63-years-old Salem Qasim enthusiastically.

Salem lives in Sarar district with his nine children. During the agricultural season he would farm his land and teach the Quran to village children. After the harvest, he used to move to the city away from his children for six months to work to support his family. “Agricultural productivity was very low in my village due to the usage of traditional farming techniques and poor farming practices,” he says.

A woman carrying a bunch of dried plants
Ghanya reaps the crops of the improved millet and sorghum seeds

Similarly to Salem, Ghana Ali, a 58-year-old from Rasad district, struggled to provide the basics for her family. Ghanya is the main caretaker and breadwinner for her sisters and elderly mother. “Food is too expensive for most of the families,” she says. “Our income was barely enough to feed us.”

With funding from Yemen Humanitarian Fund (YHF), CARE started a project to improve food security levels in Abyan governorate through supporting agriculture-based livelihoods.

As part of the project CARE trained 76 farmers in Rasad and Sarar districts including Salem and Ghanya on best farming practices and new farming technologies including micro-dosing, timely planting, proper spacing and row cropping. The project also provided improved millet and sorghum seeds for 1300 farmers, along with much-needed agricultural tools such as sickles, rakes, hoes and carts. And to help the targeted farmers survive until harvest time, the project provided them with monthly cash assistance of 50 US dollars for three months.

As a result of higher quality seeds which can be harvested in a short time, the production of millet and sorghum dramatically increased in the target areas. “The improved seeds we received work like magic,” says Ghanya. “Can you imagine how my income would increase if I harvested nearly two bags of crops every month?”

“The micro-dosing technique consists of applying very small amounts of fertilizer directly on plant roots,” says Salem. “This method increases fertilizer efficiency and can double the productivity of millet and sorghum crops.”

“I learned new effective technologies like preparing natural fertilizer at home and reducing fertilizer consumption through micro-dosing,” says Ghanya. “Now, I visit my friends in neighbouring villages every Friday and talk to them about those technologies.”

“The project gave us is a rare bright light of hope amid the gloomy situation farmers face in Yemen,” Salem concludes.

A group of people standing in a green field
Farmers being trained on best farming practices
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