GRM 2010 GRM 2011

Abstract Details

Family Name:
First Name:
Title of Paper:
The political economy of agriculture and agricultural policy in Yemen
Paper Proposal Text :
The already very critical food situation of Yemen was worsened by the socioeconomic crisis concomitant to the 2011-2012 revolutionary movement that led to the stepping down of Ali Abdullah Saleh in February 2012. Five decades of market-oriented agriculture and inappropriate food policies placed Yemen among the ten most food insecure countries in the world. Whereas Oxfam and the World Food Programme were calling for the supply of emergency food aid to one-fifth to one-quarter of the whole population by the end of 2011, the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation (see NASS) estimated that in 2012, about 46 percent of Yemenis – some 10.5 million people – did not have enough food. Food insecurity is mostly a rural problem, concerning 37 percent of the rural population (NASS), and thus intimately connected to food production. The deterioration of old subsistence farming systems was concomitant to the increase of well-irrigated commercial agriculture and the increasing reliance on imported staple food -93% of national wheat requirements were imported in 2011.
In the wake of an economy’s shrinking by 11% in 2011, the overall agricultural sector has been particularly affected by the shutting down of basic supplies and the shortage of inputs –with an estimated drop in output of 16%. However, recently released statistics (Central Statistical Organisation) show a slight increase in (mostly rain-fed) cereals surface and production in 2012 after a drop in 2011**. At the political level, the 2011-2012 events precipitated the emergency of a new National Agriculture Sector Strategy (NASS), developed with local stakeholders and international organizations since late 2010, and adopted by the Council of Ministers in March 2012. The agriculture sector is still a priority, indeed providing a main direct or indirect source of income for nearly three quarters of the population and producing some 12.6 percent of GDP in 2012.
This paper will discuss the challenges faced by the transitional administration in the field of agriculture and food production in Yemen in a context of sharp food crisis and new strategic rhetorics (NASS Strategy and the recent Global Agriculture and Food Security Program proposal for Yemen). We will also address the fate of subsistence farming resisting the confirmed neoliberalist orientations with the Yemen’s becoming a new WTO member in December 2013 after a one-decade long negotiation.