Reference Date: 03-June-2014
FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT
Average cereal crop forecast in 2014
Retail prices of wheat stable in recent months
Alarming levels of food insecurity across the country; the number of severely food insecure people doubled since 2009
Average cereal crop forecast for 2014
Harvesting of the 2014 grain crop will start in July/August. Current reports indicate normal meteorological conditions, as well as normal availability of inputs. Although in the crop-producing western parts of the country heavy rains in May offset the precipitation deficit resulting from below-average rains in March and April, the final impact on the production remains to be determined. At about 860 000 tonnes, an average total grain harvest is forecast.
The 2013 cereal production was estimated at about 864 000 tonnes. At this level, the crop was about 5 percent lower than previous year’s crop and some 5 percent above the previous five-year average. The harvest remained below the record harvest of more than 1 million tonnes in 2010.
In March 2012, the Government of Yemen approved the National Agriculture Sector Strategy and Investment Plan for 2012-2016. Among the objectives in the agriculture sector are to raise domestic food production through improved input supply, increased farmer awareness and greater availability of credit; to provide the conditions for higher income to farmers and increased rural employment to fight poverty in rural communities; to preserve environment and natural resources using community participation; and to improve marketing efficiency, decrease post-harvest losses and develop export capacities. The strategy recognizes the scarcity of arable land and sustainable water management.
Slightly increased import requirements
Yemen is largely dependent on imports from international markets to satisfy its domestic consumption requirement for wheat, the main staple. The import dependency for wheat is about 95 percent and in the last five years, an average of 2.7 million tonnes per annum of wheat was imported commercially out of a total domestic wheat utilization of about 2.86 million tonnes.
As a consequence, the country is highly vulnerable to international commodity price increases and volatility.
The import requirement for cereals in the 2014 marketing year (January/December), is forecast at about 3.6 million tonnes, about 4 percent down on 2013. Most of the imports is wheat (almost 2.8 million tonnes), with rice and maize imports forecast almost equally at some 400 000 tonnes.
The continued depreciation of the local currency against the US dollar is having a severe negative impact on the overall value of the food import bill. The country’s capacity to import is also curtailed by the record low levels of foreign exchange reserves.
Retail prices of wheat increasing in recent months
Average retail prices of wheat and wheat flour in specific markets are generally stable on monthly basis with seasonal variations. Large regional differences in retail prices exist depending on quality variation, transportation costs and distance of the entry ports. The highest prices are generally reported in Aden (YER 130 per kg of wheat in May 2014, YER 120 per kig of flour), while the lowest can be found in Amran (YER 100 for wheat, YER 130 for flour).
In February 2014, the country’s level of annual general inflation was 6.12 percent, its lowest level since December 2012. Food inflation stood at 4.4 percent.
Number of severely food insecure people almost doubled since 2009
The civil unrest that swept the country since early 2011 resulted in a strong economic downturn, with a real GDP contraction estimated between 8 and 14 percent, mainly due to interruptions in oil production and a significant drop in private and public investments. The gradual recovery seen in 2012 and 2013 is likely to continue in 2014.
According to a Comprehensive Food Security Survey by WFP released in June 2012, over 5 million people (22 percent of the population) are severely food insecure and in need of emergency food assistance and an additional 5 million people are “moderately” food insecure and at risk of deterioration in the face of continuing shocks. Child malnutrition rates are among the highest in the world with close to half of Yemen’s children under five years—2 million children—stunted and 1 million acutely malnourished.
To tackle the food insecurity situation, an Emergency Operation (EMOP) worth USD 315 million has been approved by WFP and FAO on 15 January 2014 to provide emergency food and nutrition support to almost 5.2 million food-insecure and conflict-affected people through food assistance and cash transfers between 1 January and 30 June 2014.