Yemen shows its worth at the Bahrain Garden Show
Studies have shown that current food imports to the region value $25 billion annually – a figure that is expected to double by 2020.
Accordingly, the show presented an excellent opportunity for Yemeni entrepreneurs working in this field learn more about the best practices in water management, irrigation, soil enhancement and management. They also got the chance to explore the possibilities of joint cooperation and investments in the agricultural sector.
Agriculture in a new Yemen
Bahrain’s agriculture event came as Yemen continued to struggle after a year of protests and revolution, aimed at creating a “new Yemen”.
Yet this revolution should reach all aspects of our lives – including agriculture and environment, where Yemen needs to make radical changes. The issue of how we manage our water, land and soil must be addressed and it is high time Yemen tackled the problem of qat, which uses huge amounts of the country’s ever-decreasing water reserves.
Bahrain’s International Garden Show is an opportunity to draw attention to two essential areas of agricultural development; sustainability – or planting without harming the environment – and preserving water by introducing the most modern and environmentally friendly methods of irrigation to minimize waste.
This will maintain Yemen’s land, crops and water for future generations and cultivation. Another issue that must be addressed is the use of chemical pesticides that destroy the soil’s natural characteristics, affecting crops and future cultivation.
Mohammed Thabit Ali Al-Gamal began a shift in the way that fruits and vegetables are sold in Yemen. Starting in 2006, he moved away from traditional displays, focusing on quality, appearance and packaging, offering attractive products at affordable prices. This led to Al-Gamal winning contracts from the largest Mulls and department stores in Sana'a to manage their grocery sections. He has since inspired many traders to change the way their fruits are displayed and packed.
Helmi Ahmed Baqader is the second selected participant. Another Yemeni entrepreneur, Baqader started as farmer growing Arabian jasmine in Lahj governorate – but what distinguishes him from other farmers is the fact that he succeeded in becoming the main distributor of the scented flower – used in a variety of occasions from marriage to graduation – to more than ten governorates across the country.
Participation in the show by Yemen’s entrepreneurs is also an opportunity to learn the most up to date methods of marketing, presentation, packing and selling agriculture products that could lead to new markets for Yemen.
Yemen’s products impressed at the show, due to their quality and diversification. On display were mangos, bananas, oranges, mandarins, papayas and figs as well as the Arabian Jasmine flower.
One thing that drew attention to Yemen is the fact that these fruits grow in different climates and so it is rare to find them in one country. They were also deemed to be of high quality and taste. Yemen has a tradition of supplying a variety of agricultural products to the Arab world, using its diverse climate, fertile soil and the accumulated knowledge of Yemeni farmers to solidify its reputation for quality products.
Now Yemen must build on the assets cultivated by our fathers and grandfathers by preserving our environment and implementing sustainable methods that preserve the country’s water and soil for future generations.
Adel Al-Ashtal, of Yemen’s General Investment Authority (GIA), was assigned by the regional office of the United Nations Industrial Organization (UNIDO) in Bahrain to select Yemeni entrepreneurs for the show and worked as team leader of the New Enterprise Creation, funded by UNIDO.