yemenThe Republic of Yemen is located in Western Asia. Its capital is Sana’a, and population 25,130,000 (2011). The country is divided into 20 governorates (Muhafizaat), which are further divided into districts.

Agriculture is diverse, main crops being sorghum, wheat and barley, and millions of mango trees. Most of the cultivable area is rain-fed. Groundwater and spate floods are major sources of irrigation. Most farmers are poor and subsistence. Rural women have not yet come into mainstream development.

Context

Context

The country has distinct agro-ecological zones comprising coastal, mountainous and desert areas. Over-pumping of groundwater by farmers and the popular cultivation of too much water consuming qat crop are serious problems.

Recent reports indicate over 40 percent of the population not having access to adequate food, and about one million children suffering from malnutrition. These numbers raise grave concerns about deteriorating food security situation.

Key Statistics and Indicators

Indicator

Value

Year  

Agricultural land (sq km)

Agricultural land (% of land area)

Arable land (hectares)

Arable land (% of land area)

Arable land (hectares per person)

234520

44.41

1171000

2.21

0.05

2009

2009

2009

2009

2009

Fertilizer consumption (Kg per hectare of arable land)

12.04

2009

Agriculture, value added (% of GDP)

Food production index (2004-2006 = 100)

Food exports (% of merchandise exports)

Food imports (% of merchandise imports)

126

5.73

27.81

2009

2009

2009

GNI per capita, Atlas method (current US$)

1170

2010

Literacy rate, adult total (% of people ages 15 and above)

Literacy rate, youth female (% of females ages 15-24)

Literacy rate, youth male (% of males ages 15-24)

Ratio of young literate females to males (% ages 15-24)

Ratio of female to male secondary enrollment (%)

62.39

72.17

95.60

75.49

62.18

2009

2009

2009

2009

2010

Mobile cellular subscriptions (per 100 people)

Internet users (per 100 people)

11085000

12.34

2010

2010

Population, total

Population density (people per sq. km of land area)

Rural population*

Rural population (% of total population)*

Agricultural population (% of total population)*

Total economically active population in agriculture*

Total economically active population in agriculture (in %

    of total economically active population)

Female economically active population in agriculture (% of

     total economically active population in agriculture)*

24,052,514

46

16403000

68.19

38.84

2,314,000

38.94

40.31

2010

2010

2010

2010

2010

Sources: The World Bank; *Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations FAO

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History

History of Extension and the Enabling/Disabling Environment

During 1980s, extension services were strengthened under various projects funded by donor agencies, especially the World Bank. Later, government’s priorities changed and extension has been suffering setbacks since 1990s. Until recently, Agricultural Research and Extension Authority (AREA), an autonomous body, was responsible for both research and extension in Yemen, but the Authority was criticized for focusing on research and ignoring extension. Now, as a result of re-organization, the function of extension has been given to the General Directorate of Extension & Training located within the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation. Extension has been decentralized along with other technical departments in Yemen.

In spite of decentralization in Yemen, only 3.2 percent of farming households receive any type of extension support. Even in the Internal Plateau Zone, where extension services are most accessible, only 6.6 percent of households benefit from extension. Reasons behind the unsatisfactory performance of extension are low salaries, weak management, absence of monitoring, evaluation and accountability, negligible budget and transportation facilities, mostly outdated technical information, and technical directorates running independently their own fragmented extension activities. The key factors are as follows:

Water shortage:Yemen’s most serious agriculture-related problem is water shortage for irrigation. The water sources are rains and groundwater. While the development of rain- fed agriculture has not yet received as much attention as it deserves the pressure on drawing underground water has been increasing. The re-charge of water is far less than the water being pumped out. The groundwater consumption for agricultural purposes is as high as 70 percent, and according to an estimate over 30 percent of that consumption goes into the cultivation of qat alone. Qat is a semi-narcotic plant, favorite among the farmers for its ever increasing demand and guaranteed marketing at lucrative price. The farmers even get indirect government subsidy on diesel used for pumping out the ground water. The government is taking measures to discourage the qat cultivation, because apart from huge water consumption, it has become a social problem, not to mention the increasing threat of food security as the land being used for qat cultivation could be used for growing food crops. So far, the success has been limited in convincing farmers to grow alternate crops.

Decentralization
Like in many developing countries (Indonesia, Philippines, Tanzania, Uganda, Pakistan, etc.) where decentralization has weakened extension services due to political interference of elected local government officials, Yemen’s extension services have also suffered. Proper utilization of budget allocated for extension purposes has become an issue due to tendency of the governorates to divert these funds to non-extension activities. For this very reason, the national level General Directorate of Extension and Training now handles the total budget allocated to extension, and contracts out specific field extension activities to be performed by the governorate level departments. This strategy seems to be working thus far but it could be challenged by the Local Councils any time.

Lack of operational funds
Extension, like most other technical departments of the Ministry suffers from acute shortage of operational funds. Under the circumstances, donor-funded projects are welcomed as at least temporary source of funds. As indicated earlier, dozens of Agricultural Blocks and Extension Centers, which are located at crucial district and village levels are either non-functional or have been abandoned due to the neglect of maintenance and lack of basic residential facilities because they are simply no funds available.

Unstable political climate and insecurity
The political situation remains unstable as the country presently has a transition government for two-year period after which general elections are expected to be held. Although certain donor-funded projects are ongoing yet the uncertainty prevails. Extension activities cannot be carried out satisfactorily in certain southern governorates due to security risk caused by militants.

Several donors are active in Yemen. Some of them are:

  • UNDP: Gender and Economic Empowerment Project (2010-2013)
  • IFAD: Participatory Rural Development Project (in Dhamar Governorate; about to end); Community Resource Management Project (in Dhalea Governorate; currently active)
  • FAO: Presently, a TCP project in the training of field technicians in veterinary, and some other field staff.
  • European Union: Funded fisheries, food security and safety net activities
  • World Bank: Rain-fed Agriculture and Livestock Development Project (in collaboration with the Social Fund for Development)
  • Social Fund for Development (SFD)

The total budget of SFD is $ 120 million. SFD maintains an impressive database of public institutions, private companies, NGOs and individual experts in the area of rural and agricultural development. It is also involved in extension activities like training of farmers, funding of small projects in livestock, agriculture terraces, pastures management, bee-keeping, etc.

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Extension Providers

Major Institutions Providing Extension/Advisory Services

Public Institutions

General Directorate of Extension and Training, Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation

This is newly created directorate and is located under the Service Sector of the Ministry. It is headed by a Director-General.  The Agricultural Training Center, Taiz and the National Information Center, Sana’a, have also been placed under the General Directorate. The Directorate-General has three directorates, namely Directorate of Extension, Directorate of Training, and Directorate of Information. There is a fear that the operational funds allocated to extension, which are extremely low, if transferred to the governorates, could be spent by Local Councils on non-extension matters. To avoid this risk, the Director-General contracts out specific extension tasks to be performed to governorate level technical departments and other suitable institutions. In many cases, extension workers have charged famers for providing technical services due to their low salaries and lack of operational funds.

Individual departments of the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation
Several departments in the ministry have their individual extension units. For example, the General Directorate of On-Farm Irrigation has an Irrigation Advisory Service which works with Water User Associations. The General Directorate of Animal Health and Veterinary Quarantine also has an information and communication officer on its staff. Similarly, the General Directorate of Agricultural Marketing has a marketing and extension officer. According to the General Directorate of Plant Protection and Quarantine, which also has an extension section, it is common for farmers to contact the directorate for technical advice on plant protection rather than going through extension agents.

General Directorate of Rural Women Development
The General Directorate of Rural Women Development comprises 17 departments and four sections. Its governorate level staff works for the development of rural women through micro-projects such as home gardening, livestock care, food processing, etc. There are 11 rural women development centers located in various governorates. The General Directorate lacks funds for field activities and, therefore, is keen to cooperate and collaborate with the General Directorate of Extension and Training and other relevant institutions.

Governorate level extension offices
Due to decentralization, each governorate has agricultural extension office, somewhere as department and in other cases as sections within the governorate level ministry of agriculture offices. Veterinary services along with some extension messages on livestock and small ruminants’ health are provided by the veterinary department. The extension staff comprises graduate subject-matter specialists, and agricultural technicians and veterinarians who hold agricultural or veterinary secondary school certificates or post secondary school diplomas, while others having basic qualification plus some training.

Agricultural Blocks and Extension Centers
Agricultural Blocks (district level extension offices) and Extension Centers (village level extension offices) were established in most of the governorates during 1980s when several donor agencies notably the World Bank were active in strengthening extension services at the request of the government. There were four to six Extension Centers under each Agricultural Block. However, as the projects ended and the government’s priority for extension gradually declined, the maintenance of the centers was ignored and the infrastructure started falling apart to much dismay of extension staff and the farmers. As of May 2012, among the total 467 Agricultural Blocks and Extension Centers, only 392 were functional while 75 were non-operational due to various reasons including precarious physical condition, lack of operational budget, departure of frustrated resident staff, lack of equipment and transport facilities, and occupation of the buildings by others.  It meant that the area previously covered by the now non-operational Agricultural Blocks and Extension Centers either had to be covered by other functional centers, thus increasing their workload, or it was simply left uncovered.

Rural Women Development Centers and Veterinary Centers
The total number of functioning Rural Women Development Centers and Veterinary Centers was 11 and four (4) respectively in the year 2012.

Table 1: District-level Agricultural Blocks, and village-level Extension Centers, Rural Women Development Centers and Veterinary Centers in Yemen in 2012

No.

Governorate

Number

Total Number of All Types of Centers

Agricultural Blocks

Extension Centers

Rural Women Development Centers

Veterinary Centers

1

Hodeida

1

55

-

-

56

2

Ibb

8

44

-

-

52

3

Taiz

8

38

-

-

46

4

Sana’a

6

32

1

-

39

5

Dhamar

3

28

1

-

31

6

Amran

3

19

1

-

23

7

Hajah

2

18

-

-

20

8

Marib

-

13

3

-

16

9

Hadramout - Mokala

-

15

-

-

15

10

Sadaa

1

14

-

-

15

11

Hadramout - Sayoon

8

4

-

-

12

12

Al-Jawf

-

12

-

-

12

13

Al-Baydah

2

10

-

-

12

14

Shabwah

3

2

1

4

10

15

Al-Mahweet

3

7

-

-

10

16

Abyen

6

1

-

-

7

17

Al-Mahrah

2

5

-

-

7

18

Al-Dhalea

-

3

-

-

3

19

Lahj

1

-

-

-

1

20

Raymah

-

-

5

-

5

Total

 

57

320

11

4

392

                 

      Source: General Directorate of Extension; May, 2012

Agricultural Research Authority (ARA)[1]
Until recently, the Agricultural Research and Extension Authority (AREA), located in Dhamar governorate used to cover both research and extension. Due to criticism that AREA focused more on research and ignored extension in general, the extension function has been taken away from AREA. The organization now called as Agricultural Research Authority, is still engaged in some extension and training activities, which will be gradually phased out. The ARA is governed by a Board comprising members from the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation, Ministry of Planning and Development, Ministry of Finance, and from universities. The ARA has about 12 research stations located in different governorates. 

Public universities
Public universities have faculties of agriculture which offer degree programs in agricultural extension. Main universities with faculty of agriculture and veterinary science are as follows:

  • Sana’a University, Sana’a
  • Aden University, Aden 
  • Dhamar University, Dhamar
  • Ibb University, Ibb

Table 2: Human Resources in the Agricultural Extension at National and Governorate Level in Yemen

S. No.

Governorate

Extension staff

Total

Specialists  (university degrees)

Technicians and workers (diplomas, certificates)

 

General Directorate of Extension and Training (national level)

4

2

6

1

Ibb

44

48

92

2

Abyen

22

69

91

3

Al-Bayda

5

17

22

4

Al-Jawf

11

19

30

5

Hodiedah

46

79

125

6

Al-Dhalea

6

1

7

7

Al-Mahwet

7

31

38

8

A-Mahrah

6

7

13

9

Taiz

73

85

158

10

Hajah

17

51

68

11

Al-Mokalla

36

23

59

12

Sayoon

51

10

61

13

Dhamar

34

40

74

14

Rymah

3

6

9

15

Shabwah

13

41

54

16

 Sadaah

1

12

13

17

Amran

12

56

68

18

Lahj

65

36

101

19

Marib

41

80

121

 

Total

497

713

1,210

Source:  General Directorate of Extension and Training, Sana’a, Yemen; 2011

Non-Public Institutions

Private sector
In general, private companies deliver some extension advice during the sale of their farm input products such as fertilizers, pesticides, etc. Some of them set up even demonstration plots, which are in fact a marketing tool in promoting their products. The private companies also work with cooperatives and producers’ associations. Examples of such companies are:

Non-governmental organizations
A number of NGOs are involved in extension related activities. Their funding usually comes from various donors. Examples are:

  • Yemeni Association for Sustainable Agricultural Development (YASAD)
    The NGO has a large staff and is engaged in a number of agricultural development activities.
    Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ; Mailing address: Al Adle Street, P.O. Box 13778, Sana’a, Yemen; Tel.: (967) 1 25 2449
  • Yemen Women Union (YWU) focuses on women development. Website: 

Farmers-based organizations and cooperatives

Agriculture Cooperative Union
The Agriculture Cooperative Union has 15 branches located in various governorates. The union comprises 320 producers’ associations, and the number of its individual members is over 150,000. It runs three farms for poultry, dairy and cattle activities. The union provides guidance to its members in various aspects of agricultural production, processing and marketing.

Anss Agricultural Association
The association, started in 1998, now has 500 members including 80 women, but if their associates are included then the membership reaches 5,000. The association has provided training in food processing to 300 rural women. It is presently establishing a facility for its members for storage and marketing of produce. The association is a member of the Irrigation Corporation and the Agriculture Supply Corporation.

Other organisations are: 

  • Yemen Fisheries Cooperative Union
  • Yemeni Coffee Producers Association  

List of Extension Providers

icon target The following list shows an excerpt from the GFRAS Directory of Extension Providers for Yemen. Some of these entries may be specially marked for having more detailed information in the database of the Worldwide Extension Study WWES.

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Training

Training Options for Extension Professionals

Pre-service education in agricultural extension is offered at agricultural faculties of major universities, i.e. Sana’a University, Aden University and Dhamar University.

In-service training of extension staff is organized not only at the Agricultural Training Center, Taiz, but also in Sana’a and other cities as convenient. The training center at Taiz needs rehabilitation due to lack of maintenance. Table 3 shows the type of training provided to various target groups during the period 2004-2008.

Table 3: In-service Training Provided to Various Groups during the Period 2004-2008

Training Course

Year & Place

Target Group

No. of Trainees

Funding

Development of cotton cultivation and production

2005 Zabid

Technicians and farmers from three governorates

20

Arab Agricultural Development Organization

Sorting and grading of cotton

2006 Abyan

Agricultural specialists and technicians from three areas

15

Public budget

Cultivation of horticulture and coffee crops

2006 Sana'a

Extension specialists from selected governorates, and nursery workers

24

Joint contribution with the general department of plant production

Extension communication

2007 Socotra Island

Male and female workers

20

Public budget

5. Home gardens and water extension

2007 Socotra Island

Rural leaders

25

Joint contribution with Care French Organization and cooperation with the General Directorate of Rural Women Development

Cultivation and production of cereals and legumes

2008 Sana'a

Crop specialists in the governorates

24

Joint contribution with the Arab Agricultural Development Organization

Extension communication and  program planning

2008 Sana'a

Agricultural workers in Sana'a governorate

26

Joint contribution between the Extension Department and General Authority of Agricultural Development in the Northern Areas

 Marketing extension and improvement of  agricultural exports

2008 Sana'a

Extension officers in the governorates

24

Funding from UNDP in collaboration with the General Directorate of Marketing

Source: Agricultural extension in Yemen; Report prepared by the General Directorate of Extension & Training; 2008

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ICT

Info-mediaries and Information and Communication Technology (ICT) f

The Directorate of Information of the General Directorate of Extension and Training has well trained and experienced staff. Also, it has necessary equipment and studio for preparing television and radio programs besides a large variety of audio-visual equipment. Certain equipment though is now obsolete and needs replacement with modern ones. The Directorate offers radio and television programs on regular basis for the producers. Generators are used to compensate frequent power outages. Cell phones are quite common in rural areas. As all villages have not yet been electrified, farmers have more radios than television sets.

The application of modern information and communication technology may be seen at the Agriculture Research Authority in the form of information management system, databases, access to the Internet, and GIS and remote sensing activities. However, the extension offices, especially those in the governorates and districts, lack any use of information technology in support of field extension activities, that is, other than radio and television programs.

According to the World Bank, in 2010, the number of mobile cellular subscriptions (per 100 people) in Yemen was 11,085,000. During the same year, the number of Internet users (per 100 people) in the country was 46.08.

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Resources

Resources and references

Al-Mahfadi, A.S. (2010). RWDGD [Rural Women Development General Directorate]: Information, Tasks, Activities and Needs. Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation

Ecker, O.,C. Breisinger, C. McCool, X. Diao, J. Funes, L.You and B. Yu. (May 2010). Assessing Food Security in Yemen: An Innovative, Integrated Cross-Sector, and Multilevel Approach. IFPRI Discussion Paper 00982. Washington, DC: International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)

General Directorate of Extension and Training (2008). Report on Agricultural Extension in Yemen. Sana’a: Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation

Government of Yemen. (2011). Social Fund for Development. Annual Report 2011

Hassanein, A. (2008). Enabling Government Effectiveness in Yemen: An Assessment of the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation; Washington, DC: United States Agency for International Development

Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation (2012). A Promising Sector for Diversified Economy in Yemen: National Agriculture Strategy (2012-2016)

Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (2008). Qat Production in Yemen: Water Use, Competiveness and Possible Policy Options for Change

Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation, Yemen (2010). 2010 Statistical Yearbook

Salla, M.N. and M. Al-Najhi (2008). Analysis of agricultural information systems in Yemen. Country Paper presented at the Regional Workshop on Strengthening National Information Communication Management Focal Points in Near East and North Africa Region; organized by AARINENA in collaboration with GFAR, FAO and the Ministry of Agriculture of Oman; Muscat; January 8-10, 2008

United States Agency for International Development (2008). Yemen Agricultural Support Program. Final Report; October 2005-April 2008.

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Acknowledgements

  • Authored by M. Kalim Qamar (June 2012)
  • Edited by Burt E. Swanson
  • The latest information on extension organization was provided by Dr. Mohamed M.A. Al-Marwani, Director-General, General Directorate of Extension & Training Sana’a
  • The latest information on the Agricultural Research and Extension Authority (AREA) was provided by Dr. Mansoor Aqil, Chairman, AREA, Dhamar
  • The latest information on extension aspects of universities in Yemen was provided by Dr. Ali Hasan Khalil, Assistant Professor, Department of Extension and Economics, Faculty of Agriculture, Ibb University, Ibb

[1] The original official title Agricultural Research and Extension Authority (AREA) is in the process of being formally changed to Agricultural Research Authority (ARA).