Somali livestock trade booming despite ravages of war



Agence France Presse

Published — Thursday 22 November 2012

Last update 21 November 2012 10:25 pm

| نسخة PDF Print News | A A

At Hargeisa’s dusty livestock market two men quietly size each other up, haggling over animal prices by placing fingers on their chequered headscarfs to indicate how much they would pay.
“If I press one finger, it means 100 shillings, the whole hand, 500, a bit of a finger, 90 shillings...we want to hide negotiations from other traders,” said animal trader Mohammed Iid, explaining the reasoning behind the silent barter.
Amidst the chaos that has characterised life in conflict-ravaged Somalia, the animal trade has survived — and even managed to prosper.
Traders in the northern Somali city — capital of the self-declared independent nation of Somaliland — rake in healthy profits, with sales spiking during Islamic festivals.
The symbolic sacrifice of sheep in accordance with Islam sees orders increase from neighboring countries such as Yemen, some 200 kilometers (125 miles) across the Gulf of Aden.
Up to $250 million is generated from the export of goats, sheep and camels, although the lucrative trade was crippled when Saudi Arabia — one of the biggest consumers of animals from the Horn of Africa — imposed a nine-year ban on imports amid fears of an outbreak of Rift Valley Fever.
After the import ban was lifted in 2010, Somalia exported 4.3 million animals to Saudi Arabia and 4.7 million the following year, even though Somalia was experiencing one of its worst droughts on record.
Animals are exported through the ports of Berbera in Somaliland and Bossaso in Puntland. Both have established relative stability compared to the two decades of civil war that has ravaged southern and central Somalia.
From behind a pair of glasses, 78-year-old Mohamed Aden offers an insight into what the livestock trade means to the average Somali.
“Animal rearing is our life,” he said, an animal trader for 21 years. “They are the source of our resources, our work and a source of tax for the government.”
The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) says Somaliland’s animal industry provides 40 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, employs 65 percent of the workforce and is responsible for up to 80 percent of foreign exchange.
Over two thirds of Somaliland’s rocky and bushy scrubland are given over to the animals.
“They are free range animals, they are organic,” said Ali Gulu, chief veterinary officer for the key port of Berbera.
Berbera, constructed by Russia during the Cold War, has already exported three million animals this year.
“The port is our main source of revenue...it funds up to 80 percent of the country’s budget,” said Omer Abokor Jama, the port’s deputy manager, noting the port earned $120 million in revenues last year.
While the lucrative business may be making enormous profits today, its foundation lies in long-standing ancestral ties between the Horn of Africa and the Arabian peninsula.
“It is easy for us to do business with them... they have always been our traditional business partners,” said Dhamac Barud, one of the most prosperous traders, earning over $1 million a year from exports to Saudi Arabia.
Britain’s seizure of Somaliland in 1888 was driven partly by the wish to secure regular livestock exports to fuel its growing empire, including the major Yemeni port of Aden, and that link is maintained today.
Britain supports the FAO’s efforts to develop the livestock industry, encouraging the growth of other related industries.
In Hargeisa, women extract marrow from the bones of slaughtered camels, mixing it with incense and soda ash to create soap, undercutting imported bars from surrounding nations.

What's happening around Saudi Arabia

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman prays inside the historic Quba Mosque in Madinah. The king was accompanied by Prince Muqrin, Sheikh Abdul Rahman Al-Sudais, head of the Presidency of the Two Holy Mosques and Prince Sultan bin Salman, ch...
JEDDAH: Shop rentals at certain malls have risen by 200 percent, with this cost likely to be passed on to the consumer, the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI) said here recently. Muhammad Al-Shehri, chairman of the JCCI’s textiles and gar...
JEDDAH: People with special needs can now visit a park that has dedicated services for them.Jeddah Mayor Hani Abu Ras opened Al-Erada Park in Al-Salama district on Prince Sultan Street on Thursday.“The Kingdom provides special care for people with di...
JEDDAH: Is involvement in social media the right thing or wrong, particularly in the month of Ramadan? There is a difference of opinion with some arguing that it eats into the time that should be spent praying while some backing it for its religious...
RIYADH: The Argentine government has thanked the Kingdom for previously hosting its Umrah pilgrims for free.“They were part of a group invited by then Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah,” said Ambassador Jaime Sergio Cerda on Thursday.“T...
RIYADH: The Ministry of Education’s counseling department has approved the Rifq Program for the physical and psychological well-being of students.Nabil Mohammad Al-Budair, director of counseling for boys, said the program aims to reduce violence in p...
RIYADH: Sales of fireworks at public markets and main roads in Riyadh have increased during Ramadan, despite the Ministry of Commerce and Industry announcing a SR5,000 reward for anyone providing information about warehouses storing these dangerous i...
RIYADH: The General Organization for Social Insurance (GOSI) has reported that there were 69,241 work-related accidents in 2014, with expatriates making up 65,509 or 94.6 percent and Saudis 3,732.The accidents were in nine sectors with building and c...
JEDDAH: The Health Ministry’s expenditures over the past five years increased from SR29.29 billion to SR53.73 billion, an increase of about 83 percent.According to a study detailing the ministry’s expenditures between 2008 and 2012 issued by the mini...
RIYADH: Five people from the southern Indian state of Kerala were killed in a road accident at Salwa near Dammam in the Eastern Province early Thursday morning.Manoj Kumar, community welfare attache at the Indian Embassy, told Arab News that the vict...
MAKKAH: The government has deployed eight helicopters over Makkah to track the movement of vehicles and people, and assist in security tasks and medical evacuations.Maj. Gen. Mohammad Al-Harbi, commander of the Interior Ministry’s aviation security d...
JAZAN: A Yemeni woman (A.M.) has once again experienced freedom and a renewed sense of hope in life after reuniting with her family last week on her release from Jazan General Prison, where she spent six years on charges of murder of a citizen in the...
RIYADH: A delegation from the Kingdom recently visited the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to explore that country’s successful experience in tourism, in a bid to further develop the sector. Saudi Arabia has been making all-out efforts to promote tourism,...
RIYADH: The Justice Ministry has appointed 1,145 candidates for jobs in the judiciary and urged them to complete the requirements for their final appointment. The candidates in the sixth and fourth ranks are requested to fulfill employment prerequisi...
JEDDAH: Four thousand Djibouti workers are expected to arrive in the Kingdom over the next few months following the labor pact signed between the two countries last month.Speaking to a local publication recently, Djibouti Ambassador Diaa Eddin Saeed...

Stay Connected

Facebook