… and Replacing them with Coffee!
23 July, 2018, Haraz, Yemen
From the original article in Arabic on Yemen Max
Over the last few years the people of Haraaz, an area some 120 km south-west of the capital Sanaa, have succeeded in uprooting hundreds of qat trees. These trees, which consume almost 60% of irrigation water and have invaded farmers’ fields over time, are being replaced with the coffee tree a world renowned type for which Yemen is famed.
For the second consecutive week, the people of Haraz, continued to uproot qat trees from farmers’ fields and replace them with economically viable coffee trees.
During the inauguration of the recent campaign involving dozens of young people in Haraz, Sheikh Hassan Abd al-Qadi, an agent of the Municipality of the capital and one of the sheikhs of the region, said: ‘During previous years, the people of Haraz managed to reduce the area of qat cultivation in the Haraz region to just 2%, and replace it with coffee.’ He added, ‘Consequently, the depletion of groundwater reserves has been reduced.’
He pointed out that qat trees consumed about 60% of irrigation water, that qat is not exported abroad, and that Yemenis do not earn any profits to support the national economy from qat, unlike the coffee tree, which supplies the state treasury with hard currency.
Al-Qadi called on all Yemeni farmers and all the governorates of the republic to follow the example of the people of Haraz and replace qat trees with coffee, fruit and other food crops.
Sheikh Hassan Abd al-Qadi along with sheikhs and dignitaries of East Haraz, launched this revolution aimed at uprooting qat trees from their fields and replacing them with coffee and almond trees inspired by the uproot qat movement introduced by the late leader of the Bohra community, Dr Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin, to help farmers in Haraz.
The move was met with the support of many interested parties and activists, considering the benefits that will be reaped by Yemen as a result of its coffee being traded on a global scale.
According to economists, the coffee tree is a cash crop that supports the Yemeni economy with hard currency when it is exported and sold worldwide. It also does not need much marketing and advertising because of the fame and reputation it holds as one of the best coffees in the world.
In a recent report on Yemeni coffee, the US Metro Times said, ‘In the United States, when you ask about the best coffee growing areas in the world, only the Jabal Haraz region near Mina al-Mukha will come to mind. It goes on to say, ‘the region is the birthplace of coffee, and it is also where the term arabica, which refers to the best coffee, originated.’ The report goes on to say, ‘before the rise of coffee producers in Central and South America the Haraz region was the place where the world’s best coffee came from, with beans being valued at more that 200 dollars per pound.’
The onset of qat cultivation, which was widespread at the expense of coffee cultivation, along with the great negligence of the Yemeni government and the relevant authorities, led to a significant decline in the volume of global exports of Yemeni coffee, pushing it to 42nd position out of 64 countries around the world.
The city of Haraz is geographically located in the Sanaa Governorate and located to the southwest. It covers an area of 1276 square kilometers and consists of three directorates: Al-Manakha, Saifan and Bani Ismail. The area consists of mountainous highlands, plateaus and valleys that support a variety of crops.