A version of this story originally appeared on SPARK's website. The Arabic translation is also available there. 

Hamdi Al-asbahi is a Yemeni farmer based in Taiz, Yemen’s third largest city, lying in the highlands near the Red Sea. Taiz’s subtropical climate makes it a promising host for farmers like Hamdi.

Hamdi started his business in 2015, after receiving training under SPARK’s Agribusiness Creation Program. “In the beginning, I planted butternut squash in a small piece of land of 200 square meters. Later on, I managed to expand my farming land to 800 square meters. In addition, I now harvest tomatoes and radishes. A larger farming area and variety in production have significantly improved my income.”

The Agribusiness Creation program is created to restructure selected countries through agricultural development. It offers training to emerging entrepreneurs and supports them in building up their business and seeking financial support.

Hamdi’s growing farming business now employs three persons. “But”, he explains, “I have applied for a loan and once I receive it I am planning to further expand my lands and the variety of my products.” With plenty of water and land Hamdi explains his business as “promising”.

Photo courtesy of SPARK

Photo courtesy of SPARK

Today, with an annual growth of YR 600,000, “The king of butternut squash,” as he is known in the area, aspires to become a successful role model for his fellow companions. “I want my business to underline the importance of agriculture in my region and motivate people of this area to make use of its great farming potential.”

The lack of financial resources, however, remains a struggle for young businesses such as Hamdi’s. In fact, finding funds to buy modern machinery “is the most challenging”, as he explains and adds: “during a field visit, the SPARK team noticed that having modern machinery would save me a lot of time and effort.”

Walking around in Hamdi’s field, which he hopes to equip with modern machinery in near future, you see Hamdi with his white turban, taking care of his rows of crops. He looks well organized: he has a board where he keeps track of the seeds he has planted so far with pictures of the resulting plants next to them.

“I am proud of my business because I am still standing and growing slowly, but steadily. My business is special to me for many reasons. Having the support and help of my family is one of them. But, above all reasons, I am proud to be self-reliant.”