Yemen Wheat: Ukraine Still on the Top


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In 2021, Yemen produced around 250,000 tons of Wheat. The Government launched a project to plant more than 6 thousand additional acres in different areas with Wheat this year. Large-scale local Wheat production in Yemen is challenging as irrigation water is scarce, and infrastructure to use rainfall is lacking.

The Republic of Yemen is a country in Western Asia with a population of 31 million. So, its domestic consumption is enormous, and Yemen imports 90 percent of its Wheat requirements. Some Yemeni farmers have turned to plant their Wheat as global disruptions dent imports and send prices soaring in Yemen, where a seven-year conflict pushed people deeper into poverty and left millions hungry.

Farmer, Khaled Maasar, said most Yemenis could not afford foreign Wheat, with prices rising to some 20,000 riyals, equivalent to $33. Food price inflation had already doubled in just two years in some parts of the country. “If the farmer works in the field and this gets him an income – then this is a great blessing. This is what is pushing people back to farming Wheat,” he noted.

The conflict in Yemen that began in 2014 and divided the country between the Houthi-led movement and the Saudi-backed Government has wrecked the economy and basic infrastructure. Data from the United Nations indicates that over 17 million Yemenis need food assistance.

“As a result of the Ukrainian crisis, people who never planted crops before have now started to cultivate (Wheat) in their lands,” said farmer Abdo Mohsn Sinan. “Now people are making use of their lands, which is better than relying on imports.”, he explained.

“The Ministry of Agriculture must support farmers with seeds and grains and wells and dams. This will increase local output, and we won’t need to rely on imports at all,” commented Saleh Hababi, who works as a vendor in Sana’a.

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Yemen Wheat Trade

Wheat from Russia and Ukraine made up 45% of all imported Wheat to Yemen in 2021. Overall Wheat imports between January–July 2022 amounted to 2 million tons, a 16% decrease from 2.4 million tons during the same period in 2021. That said, the monthly average after the Russian invasion of Ukraine between March–July (295,000 tons) was only 0.7% lower than the monthly average between March 2021 and February 2022 (297,000 tons). Wheat imports through the Red Sea ports accounted for 73% of all Wheat imports to Yemen between January 2021 and July 2022.

HSA Group, one of Yemen’s most prominent food conglomerates, said it had booked around 250,000 tons of Wheat from Romania and France, sufficient to supply the market until mid-October, and it is looking to secure a further 110,000 tons.

According to the AgFlow data, Ukraine led their import market with 0.6 million tons in 2021-2022, followed by the United States (0.4 million tons), Russia (0.3 million tons), Australia (0.2 million tons), and India (0.1 million tons). 

In 2020, Yemen imported Wheat worth $674 million, becoming the 23rd largest Wheat importer in the world. The same year, Wheat was the 1st most imported product in Yemen. Yemen imports Wheat primarily from: United States ($195 million), Russia ($174 million), Ukraine ($144 million), Australia ($114 million), and France ($38.5 million).

The same year, Yemen exported $110k in Wheat, making it the 76th largest Wheat exporter in the world. In the same year, Wheat was Yemen’s 76th most shipped product. The leading destination of Wheat exports from Yemen is Kuwait ($40.5k), United Arab Emirates ($33.2k), Qatar ($21.7k), and Saudi Arabia ($14.2k).

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