Reference Date: 10-November-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 main season wheat crop was concluded in September while that of sorghum is ongoing and will continue until the end of November. Current reports indicate normal meteorological conditions and the availability of agricultural inputs was adequate. Although locally some areas in the country expect a below-average crop production due to uneven rainfall, an average total cereal harvest is currently forecast. Accordingly, total cereal is put at 860 000 tonnes, including 430 000 tonnes of sorghum and 240 000 tonnes of wheat. A record harvest of more than 1 million tonnes was gathered 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 2.8 million tonnes per annum of wheat was imported commercially out of a total domestic wheat utilization of about 3 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 4.1 million tonnes, about the same as in 2013. Most of the imports is wheat (almost 3 million tonnes), followed by some 700 000 tonnes of maize and 400 000 tonnes of rice.
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 stable 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 Sa’ada (YER 135 per kg of wheat in September 2014, YER 145 per kg of flour), while the lowest can be found in Hodieda (YER 128 per kg of wheat and YER 135 per kg of flour).
In July 2014 (last information available), the country’s level of annual general inflation was 8.9 percent, up from 5.8 in May 2014 when it was at its lowest level since December 2012. Food inflation stood at 5.5 percent, up from 1.3 percent in May 2014.
Number of severely food insecure people almost doubled since 2009
Persistent conflict continues to displace households in central areas of the country. Escalating conflict, coupled with the recent removal of fuel subsidies (as of 30 July 2014), are expected to exacerbate the food security crisis in Yemen.
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 of age - 2 million children - stunted and 1 million acutely malnourished.
An operation shifting from relief assistance to recovery and resilience to promote food and nutrition security replaced the previous emergency operation. Between 1 July 2014 and 30 June 2016, it will assist many of Yemen’s severely food-insecure people through unconditional household food or cash distributions, conditional participatory food assistance activities, nutritional support for the treatment and prevention of acute and chronic malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies, and meals and take-home rations for school children to improve attendance, nutrition and learning.