Greenhouses Inspire Farmers in Yemen to Innovate

By Dorelyn Jose

August 21, 2013   |   0 comments

Members of the Sawan Farmer’s Union meet with USAID to tour their greenhouse project, which produces 1,000 percent more vegetables than a traditional field.

Demo site showcases green technologies

Farmer Mahdy Saleh Al Nagar, 25, is one of several Yemeni farmers inspired by innovations at the Sawan demonstration site in Sana’a. The site currently showcases a greenhouse that can produce up to 10 times more vegetables than a traditional field while using 92 percent fewer pesticides than other greenhouses.

The greenhouse also includes a solar panel that powers a humidity-regulating fan, water pump and a highly efficient drip irrigation system that conserves water by 70 percent. To demonstrate further sustainable water solutions in a place where they are most needed, Creative Associates International recently completed construction of a rainwater-harvesting system on the site.

The site was established in early 2012 with USAID support. It was the first of 13 demonstration sites established in Yemen’s major cities to showcase improved and environment-friendly agricultural production techniques.

Nagar had a greenhouse built in December 2012 with money he raised by selling family heirlooms. To his amazement, he started harvesting cucumbers just 40 days after planting the seeds in the greenhouse.

“It was not even possible to grow cucumbers in our farm before, apparently because of climate change. The last time my grandfather planted cucumbers was in 1990,” said Nagar. By his own calculation, he is now happily making $85 (about 18,000 Yemeni Riyals) every three days.

Nagar is having a second greenhouse built and intends to grow strawberries once it is up and running. “I knew about greenhouses before, but didn’t know how to plant inside them. The demo site provided that knowledge and also demonstrated great ways to save water,” he said. “Greenhouses are the best. If I had more money, I would make my land full of greenhouses.”

Four of Nagar’s neighbors, all members of the Sawan Farmers’ Union (the intrepid Nagar is not even an official member), have also built greenhouses in Sawan. Meanwhile, farther south of Sana’a, in Dhamar governorate, 25 new greenhouses were installed in 2013 by a farmer trained earlier at the Sawan demonstration site.

Creative’s support to Yemen includes activities that allow farmers to earn income in innovative ways that support the environment by conserving precious water resources and using solar energy.

This success story was recently featured on USAID’s Transforming Lives website.

Dorelyn Jose is based in Yemen as the Community Livelihoods Project Communications Officer.