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Country Briefs

  Yemen

Reference Date: 28-November-2017

FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT

  1. Conflict and below average rainfall endanger agricultural livelihoods

  2. Below average cereal harvest forecast for 2017

  3. Estimated 17 million people food insecure

Conflict and below average rainfall endanger agricultural livelihoods

Due to a variety of natural conditions, the calendar of agricultural activities varies greatly depending on the location. In Central Highlands, the wheat harvest finished in October, while sorghum harvesting will continue until the end of November. In Southern uplands, wheat and maize harvests continue until the end of November. Millet, planted in Coastal areas in October, will be harvested from December.

Remotely sensed weather information suggests below average and poorly distributed rains in the 2017 agricultural season. In addition, the persistent conflict is seriously compromising agricultural livelihoods and production. Almost all governorates are reporting shortages and high prices of agricultural inputs. 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 forecast

Total cereal production in 2017 is forecast at 335 000 tonnes, about 8 percent below the previous year’s harvest and about half of the five-year average. The Yemen Emergency Food Security and Nutrition Assessment (EFSNA), published in February 2017, estimates that 40 percent of all agricultural households experienced a decline in cereal production compared to the pre-crisis levels.

Although rainfall improved the availability of pasture and water for livestock, 45 percent of the agricultural households have reduced their herds’ sizes either intentionally to cover other needs, such as health and food, or due to animal diseases. Lack of marketing channels and the absence of cold chains for produce translate into high prices in the urban areas and depressed farm-gate prices.

Relatively stable import requirements

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 2017 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 September 2017, about 2.78 million tonnes of wheat and wheat flour were imported (FSTS-FSIS Market Bulletin Update, October 2017).

Some 17 million people estimated to be food insecure

According to the latest Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) analysis carried out in March 2017, about 17 million people are estimated to be in IPC Phase 3: “Crisis” and IPC Phase 4: “Emergency” and require urgent humanitarian assistance. This corresponds to 60 percent of the total Yemeni population and represents a 20 percent increase compared to the last IPC analysis conducted in June 2016.

High food prices continue to limit the households’ access to food. In October 2017, according to the FAO/FSIS and Food Security Technical Secretariat Market Update, the average prices of locally‑produced commodities (sorghum, millet and maize) increased by 6 to 11 percent compared to September 2017, but remained up to between 46 and 63 percent above their pre‑crisis (February 2015) levels. Prices of imported wheat flour increased by over 20 percent in Hajjah Governorate, the largest increase reported in October 2017, and about 90 percent above the pre‑crisis levels. Large regional price differences persist reflecting significant market fragmentation.

As of September 2017, there were approximately 2 million Internally-Displaced 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.

The closure of maritime ports in November 2017 have disrupted the trade flows and threatened the continuity of the market supply resulting in local scarcity. The extended closure of the key ports risks a deterioration in the food security to IPC Phase 5: ‘Famine” in some parts of the country. A major cholera outbreak continues in the country, with more than 860 000 suspected cases by October 2017.

In October 2017, the official exchange rate of the Central Bank based in Aden was YER 380/USD, while the prevailing rate on the parallel market reached up to YER 400/USD in October 2017 and YER 420/USD in the first week of November 2017, almost double the official pre-crisis exchange rate of ER 214.9/USD. Households relying on remittances to improve their purchasing power and report that the lack of domestic currency makes access to their remittances more difficult.

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.