There is substantial evidence emerging that the Saudi Government and their coalition allies are deliberately targeting Yemen’s tiny agricultural sector in a campaign which, if successful, would lead a post-war Yemeni nation not just into starvation but total reliance on food imports for survival [1-5]. Much of this would no doubt come from the Gulf states which are currently bombing the country.
Academics have been amassing data from Yemen which strongly suggests that the Saudi governments' Yemen campaign contains a programme for the destruction of rural livelihood .
Rural Yemen represents the bulk of the country: 65% of Yemen’s population still lives in dispersed villages, and over half of the population relies in part or whole on agriculture and animal husbandry. Villages, sites of food production, are inevitably less ‘visible’ in media.
Martha Mundy, emeritus professor at the London School of Economics, who works in Lebanon with her colleague Cynthia Gharios, has been researching through Yemeni agriculture ministry statistics and says that the data “is beginning to show that in some regions, the Saudi government are deliberately striking at agricultural infrastructure in order to destroy the civil society” .
Mundy points out that a conservative report from the ministry of agriculture and irrigation in the Yemeni capital Sana’a gathered from its users across the country, details 357 bombing targets in the country’s 20 provinces, including farms, animals, water infrastructure, food stores, agricultural banks, markets, and food trucks.
These include the destruction of farms in Yasnim, the Baqim district of Saadah province and in Marran.
The data reveal that agricultural land was the target most frequently hit in every governorate except for Shabwa and al Mahwait (where the road to Sana’a was the primary target). According to FAOSTAT in Yemen agriculture covers just under 3% of the land, forests 1%, and pastures roughly 42%. In short, to target agriculture requires a precise aim.
“According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation, 2.8 percent of Yemen’s land is cultivated,” Mundy says. “To hit that small amount of agricultural land, you have to target it.” Saudi Arabia has already been accused of war crimes.
Mundy’s research suggests that industrial support administration buildings for agriculture were also attacked. The major Tihama Development Authority on the Red Sea coastal plain, which was established in the 1970s, is responsible for a series of irrigation structures. It has been heavily bombed twice.
On Aug. 12, 2018, the coalition bombed and destroyed the main bridge to Sanaa, the Yemeni capital, on a road where roughly 90 percent of U.N. food and other aid is transported from the port city Hodeidah. After the attack, Oxfam issued a statement warning that the bridge's destruction "threatens to leave many more people unable to feed themselves, worsening an already catastrophic situation in the country."