Yemen grain imports fall 12pc, food output hit
Dubai, December 4, 2010
Yemen's grain imports are expected to decline 11.7 per cent in 2010, a report said on Saturday, further straining the Gulf Arab country's food production, which has already been hit by shrinking harvests and low groundwater.
Yemen grain imports for 2010 are estimated to fall 441,000 metric tons to 3,321,000 metric tons, compared with 3,762,000 metric tons last year, Saudi Arabia's state news agency SPA said, citing a report by Yemen's Directorate General for Trade and Agricultural Marketing.
The report also forecast the value of grain imported in 2010 will be around RO230 billion ($1.1 billion), down RO5 billion from 2009.
A rally in global wheat prices, drought and wild fires in Russia this year have put pressure on the Middle East's wheat importers.
Yemen in particular has been grappling with an increasingly dry climate and a booming population, with harvests shrinking as rainfall declines and groundwater dries up. Farmers, which make up 70 per cent of the population, can no longer subsist on their own crops.
One in three of Yemen's 23 million people struggle with food insecurity, according to the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), which is advising the government.
More will go hungry in future, with the population growing at 3 per cent a year and water running out. Sanaa is set to be the first capital city to run dry, by 2050, experts predict.
Unusual harvest rains in Australia could also squeeze the supply of wheat, with Yemen being a key buyer of Australian prime hard wheat for use in making its main foodstuff, flat bread. – Reuters