Farmers in Yemen - level 3

Farmers in Yemen - level 3

03-01-2014 14:00

A plague of locusts has been causing misery for farmers across the Arab country of Yemen. Swarms of the insect have been eating crops as they seek proper breeding sites during their growth. Seventy-five per cent of the Yemeni population rely on agriculture for their income, so for farmers like Abraham Omar, the locusts will be a life-and-death test for him.

“I have no other income. Our family of five rely on this plot of land. We can have about two million rials a year if everything goes right. If not, we suffer. This year, the locusts have eaten up all our crops.”

Climate change in Yemen is the major cause of the plague. Usually, there’s not a lot of rain, but this year heavy rainfall has dampened the dry deserts, creating an ideal breeding ground for the short-horned grasshoppers.

“The desert locusts often lay their eggs in humid sand because that kind of environment is suitable for their growth. If you dig down some fifteen centimetres deep and if the earth is wet then they will lay their eggs there. Rains in the desert often predict the plague of insects.”

It’s possible farmers may not harvest any crops this year and will have to rely on help from the government and the international community. The locust plague is serious. Food shortage is an issue even when they aren’t eating the crops. Many villages have said if there’s no help, it’s likely some people would die of hunger.

Difficult words: plague (something that destroys a lot of things all at one time), locust (insect which flies in large groups and eats crops), swarm (large group), crop (plant grown and used as food), plot (small piece of ground), rial (Yemeni currency), dampen (make wet), breed (have babies), humid (wet), harvest (gather crops).

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