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Reclamation crop blamed for Yemen floods

Experts in Yemen are calling for the government and NGOs to tackle a fast-growing invasive shrub, which has been blamed for contributing to floods that have devastated acres of farmland. Mesquite (Prosopis juliflora), a hardy evergreen weed from the Americas, was introduced to combat desertification and stabilise sand dunes in the Middle East state. It has since spread, mainly through animal droppings, to arable land, blocking waterways and diverting floodwater into nearby villages.

Mesquite has been linked to severe flooding in Yemen's southeastern Hadramaut region, where over half-a-million palm trees, thousands of other fruit trees and nearly 70,000 beehives were washed away in October 2008. According to the country's Ministry of Agriculture, around 80 per cent of farmers in the region have been affected by the loss of crops, livestock, agricultural equipment and wells.

Date published: January 2009

 

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