The Yemenite general administration for cultivation has announced that it has set aside some 7000 Feddans of land for the cultivation of cotton crops. The cotton produce will serve the raw material requirements of textile factories in Sana'a and Aden. According to the Saba news agency, the remainder of the harvest is intended for export.
Yemen saw its cotton production increase from 13.8 million pounds (6,230 tons) to 27.6 million pounds (12,500 tons) during the 1997/98 season. During the agricultural season 1999-2000, exported cotton exceeded 15,000 bundles, totaling of more than $10 million.
Currently, an area of about 120 acres is used for growing cotton, and it is largely cultivated in the Tihama region and around Lahej.
In November 1999, the Yemeni Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources has launched a national project to enhance the production of cotton in cooperation with the private sector and cooperative societies in the cotton-growing provinces. A committee was set up to examine ways and means for promoting the production and exports of cotton.
In recent years, cotton has overtaken coffee as chief cash crop. However, at the same time, some land once used for the production of cotton, fruit and vegetables has been shifted to the production of another valuable cash crop—qat, a mildly narcotic shrub chewed by Yemenis.
With both qat and cotton being water intensive, a main agricultural problem facing the country is groundwater sustainability in the context of irrigation overuse. It is hoped that new irrigation schemes will manage to further increase area under cultivation.
The Yemenite economy is based on largely subsistence agriculture and light industry. The agriculture sector employs more than half of the Yemeni work force. Other than cotton, crops in Yemen include tomatoes, coffee, onions, millet, potatoes, sesame, tobacco, and wheat. — (Albawaba-MEBG)
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