World Bulletin / News Desk
A week into Saudi-led air-strikes in Yemen, food imports into the Arab world's poorest country are grinding to a halt as the conflict puts fragile supply chains under growing strain and commercial suppliers stay away.
Yemen imports more than 90 percent of its food, including the lion's share of its wheat and all its rice, to feed a population of about 25 million.
It has enough basic foodstocks for six months in all provinces and wheat stocks stood at 930,100 tonnes on the day air strikes began, the official Saba news agency said on Monday.
But the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said stocks could start to diminish quickly.
"Although government sources reported sufficient stocks to last the country about six months, the conflict will likely negatively impact distribution, market availability and prices of foodstuffs sooner than earlier expected," the FAO representative in Yemen, Salah ElHajj Hassan, told Reuters on Wednesday
The collapse of central authority and fighting on several fronts including Aden, one of Yemen's main ports, has already disrupted imports as well as the processing and distribution of wheat and other staples, food industry sources said.
"The port is not functioning, it has been a few days now since our imports have stopped and we are not receiving any more wheat," a source at the Yemen Company for Flour Mills and Silos in Aden said.
"Workers can't come to work so they are not operating the mills. The fighting and gunfire has stopped them from showing up and the roads are blocked," he added.
An explosion at a dairy factory at the Houthi-controlled west coast port of Hodaida port on Wednesday morning killed at least 25 people and dealt a blow to food production.
Mohamed Alshamery, manager of the Yemen Company for Sugar Refining in Hodaida, told Reuters his refinery and the port were still operational but fighting was making it difficult to take sugar to market.
Before the conflict, nearly half of Yemenis were 'food insecure', lacking sufficient food for their needs, and one in four was undernourished, the FAO said.Last Mod: 01 Nisan 2015, 18:22