Low-tunnel farming grows high hopes for Abyan farmers

Speeches Shim

Friday, October 15, 2021
Mohammed Abdu harvesting his improved watermelon crop.
Photo: ERLP

“I never expected to achieve nearly 3-times growth in my farm income.” – Mr. Mohammed Abdu, Watermelon Grower, Khanfar District, Abyan Governorate

Mr. Mohammed Abdu is a watermelon producer in southern Yemen where agriculture is a way of life for many families.  Most watermelon producers in this area grow their crop by directly sowing seeds into their fields.  This technique typically results in longer growing time and increased production costs, exposing the watermelons to a greater risk of disease and pests.   

To address this issue, USAID Economic Recovery and Livelihoods Program organized a training for 168 farmers in the Abayan region introducing them to new seedling production technologies and low tunnel farming techniques.  The seedling production technologies help reduce the time it takes to grow a watermelon crop by 6-7 weeks, dramatically increasing plant survival and decreasing the chance of diseases when the plants are transferred into the ground. 

USAID experts also introduced the farmers to low-tunnel farming techniques to protect watermelon crops against common diseases and pests, including mosaic virus, which has no cure and can devastate a watermelon crop.

Low tunnel farming is a technique where plastic tunnels, also known as "quick hoops," create inexpensive tunnel greenhouses to grow fruits and vegetables. These tunnels not only  protect crops from pests and disease but also lower the costs of inputs, such as fertilizer.  Using these inexpensive low tunnels or "quick hoops," farmers can protect plants throughout the growing season for a fraction of the cost of building large  greenhouses.

Prior to the training Mr. Abdu produced watermelons on 12 acres using traditional farming practices. He was unable to earn enough money to provide a quality living for his spouse and four young  children. After completing the training, Mr. Abdu decided to produce watermelons on one acre of land using his newly acquired knowledge of the low tunnels and seedlings. 

He was amazed at the results: a measurably healthier, more productive crop with fruit that was uniform in both size and shape, netting a 275 percent increase in profit compared to one acre planted using traditional farming methods. Over time, Mr. Abdu intends to employ low-tunnel farming to his entire field, as do other farmers in Abyan Governorate. 

Moreover, after witnessing these impressive results, the Abyan Agriculture Technical Institute immediately established demonstration sites to promote the benefits of low-tunnel farming. 

 

Last updated: November 19, 2021

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