Special - Al Jazeera Net
The guns and machine guns had barely stopped in the past two days until Mohammed Obeid asked Houthi gunmen to let him pass to the Nakheel farm in the district of al-Tahita, south of the province of Hodeidah in western Yemen.
In his vehicle "pick-up" through dirt roadbeds and arrived at his farm east of the village of Suwayq, which contains about 230 palm trees hoping to harvest the crop, but time was too late, the crop is damaged while some palm leaves from drought.
Obeid is one of hundreds of palm growers on the western coast of Yemen who lost their agricultural season because of the war that extended along the coast towards Hodeidah between Houthi militias and government-backed government forces backed by the Saudi-UAE alliance.
Obeid stands on a small earthy hillside, his eyes on his ranch recovering from drought and losing the harvest.
The dense palm groves in the areas of Suwaiq, Hamdam, Naseri, Majelis, Upper and Lower Al Jadida, as well as the Durahmi and Jarrah areas on the west coast of Yemen have become a battleground between Houthis and government forces.
|One of the palm groves in the West Coast addict south of Hodeidah (Al Jazeera Net)|
The Saudi-UAE fighter jets have launched intensive raids on farms where the Houthis have been holed up, but the raids are often aimed at civilians, as in the raid on a car carrying shoppers that killed six civilians in Al-Jaraji mid-month.
The Houthis also planted hundreds of mines on farms to prevent government forces from advancing.
"Bombing from the air, from the ground and from time to time, this situation forced us to stay in our homes, while others preferred to flee their homes and farms to survive," he said. "The situation coincided with the harvest season. Palm trees died ".
Losses in millions
Most of the West Coast residents rely on palm growing, where they grow two million and two hundred thousand palm trees in the Sahel, according to the latest statistics issued by the Tihama Development Authority in 2014.
Estimated annual production of palm trees in the Tihama plain of Yemen is approximately 35 thousand tons of dates, according to the Commission.
This amount is in millions of riyals, where one kilo of dates is sold in Yemen for 250 Yemeni riyals (about $ 2), but this year's crop is "in vain," says farmer and trader Abdul Rahman Rami of Al Jazeera Net.
|Vegetable Balah from one of the addicts farms south of Hodeidah (Al Jazeera Net)|
"There are some farmers who have lost their farms completely, especially those located in battle lines, and there are those who lost large parts of them and was unable to harvest their fruits, because the fire and shelling prevented them from reaching their farms to harvest the crop.
He pointed out that the losses of farmers do not depend on the damage of the crop, but went to the collapse of palm trees due to drought.
If the farmer was lucky and his farms did not survive the war, he had to overcome the problem of marketing his product. The war cut the roads between the Yemeni cities and villages, which prevented the marketing of the crop and exporting it abroad, especially the dates characterized by Yemen and the Mediterranean name (80% ).
Farmers are barely trying to bring the crop to the Suwaiq area for sale to export agents and local traders, but the continued war and the disruption of roads have caused the crop to stagnate, says Rami, an export agent for dates.
The inability to market dates has caused a decline in prices of about 35%, while a type of dates (called al-Khudari) can not afford to stay for three days, if not sold is thrown in the market.
Date traders also suffer from a lack of storage facilities with central refrigerators shutting down and factories, including a factory of the Yemeni Ministry of Defense closed before the war broke out due to corruption.
|Nakhil Farm in Al-Muhammed area south of Hodeidah (Al Jazeera Net)|
As the war produces havoc that produces paradoxes, "in the Suwaiq area dates are thrown because we can not market them and store them, while thousands of Yemenis are starving," Rami says.
About 20 million seven hundred thousand Yemenis (about two-thirds of the population) are in urgent need of humanitarian aid and medicine, while the Yemeni war has caused one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world, according to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).
Like the rest of Yemen's diverse agricultural crops, the export of dates has been halted due to war and the closure of the border with Saudi Arabia, so Yemeni farmers are losing a basic resource.
According to the Yemeni Ministry of Agriculture, the number of palm trees in Yemen is about 4.680 million palm trees, of which about 67% are fruit trees, all of which occupy an agricultural area estimated at 23.6 thousand hectares with a production capacity of about fifty thousand tons annually. Kg.
According to statistics, the volume of production during the last ten years less than three hundred thousand tons of production in 2009.
This quantity of production was exported in part to Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States, but the deterioration of the agricultural sector in an accelerated manner, as confirmed by Mohamed Sayed, one of the traders of dates and fruits in the area of the Bedouin of the Directorate of Beit al-Faqih in the province of Hodeidah.
"Our agricultural crops had their reputation and quality in the Saudi and Jordanian markets, and sometimes they reached Syria and the Gulf countries, but as the situation deteriorated, export stopped and farmers lost their land," he says.