Grape harvest is greeting Yemeni farmers, but continuing fuel crisis, war and low market demand are also plaguing them.
(Xinhua) — It’s high time for grape harvest in war-torn Yemen, but continuing fuel crisis and war are what have been plaguing the famers there.
At one of the vast vineyards in the capital Sanaa, Nabil Khamis and his family were collecting grapes in plastic boxes to sell them in the market.
A vendor displays grapes for sale at a market in Sanaa, Yemen, on Aug. 24, 2020. (Xinhua/Mohammed Mohammed)
“The continuing fuel crisis has caused water pumps to stop, but thanks to the good rainfall last weeks that bring much-needed relief to the land and get the grapes to ripen,” Khamis told Xinhua.
“We cannot afford to buy fuel from the black market to run the pumps or to transport the crop to sell it in other provinces or to export it abroad. The fuel shortage is the major problem for all farmers,” he said.
Khamis owns a second grape farm in Bani Hushaysh, a famous district where various kinds of grapes grow, about 25 km to the east of Sanaa.
Before the war, Khamis and many other farmers would sell their crops across the country and to exporters. However, the war has disrupted their business.
Yemen’s war erupted in late 2014 when the Iran-backed Houthi rebels seized much of the country’s north and forced the Saudi Arabian-backed government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi out of Sanaa.
A farmer picks grapes during the grape harvest season at a farm in Bani Hushaysh area, 25 km to the east of the capital Sanaa, Yemen, Aug. 23, 2020. (Xinhua/Mohammed Mohammed)
The Saudi-led military coalition intervened in the Yemeni conflict in March 2015 to support Hadi’s government.
The war has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced more than 3 million others, causing the collapse of the country’s economy and the agricultural sector.
The United Nations says the five-year-long war has pushed nearly 20 million Yemenis to the brink of famine as the situation is getting worse by the day.
People buy grapes at a market in Sanaa, Yemen, on Aug. 24, 2020. (Xinhua/Mohammed Mohammed)
The farmers are trying to sell thousands of tons of grapes during this harvest season from July until October, but they say demand is low and market prices are far below the costs of production.
“Many people were no longer able to buy,” Nashwan Ahmed, a trader at a market in downtown Sanaa, told Xinhua.