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

RIYADH: Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir has denounced “aggressive statements” by Iran, after Tehran accused Bahrain of stoking Gulf tensions by making unfounded allegations against it.“This is unacceptable to us,” the minister said at a joint news co...
DAMMAM: A wanted terrorist was killed during a gunfight in the town of Al-Qudayh in the Eastern Province on Sunday, police said.Qatif police received a report that a Saudi man suffered gunshots and was taken to Modhar Dispensary in Al-Qudayh by his b...
JEDDAH: The Saudi security forces have thwarted nearly 18,000 infiltration attempts on the Kingdom’s border with Yemen since the launch of Operation Decisive Storm in March. “The number of infiltration attempts foiled by the security authorities sinc...
ABHA: Several Saudi businesswomen started traveling with a group of friends after recent regulations which allow women to travel without their mahram. These women said they find great fun to travel as a group with their friends and their children, wh...
RIYADH: The United Nations, Arab League and Gulf Cooperation Council welcomed the Kingdom-led coalition’s announcement of a five-day cease-fire, that took effect at midnight on Sunday, to push humanitarian relief in war-ravaged Yemen to the beleaguer...
ALKHOBAR: Jobless Saudi women constitute 70 percent of the unemployed. The Ministry of Economy and Planning said 58 percent of the jobless have preparatory school level education. According to the statistics, the annual unemployment growth rate among...
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has found traces of a civilization that was domesticating horses about 9,000 years ago, 4,000 years earlier than previously thought. The discovery has shed new light on the origin of the Arabian horse, which has remained a great...
RIYADH: The Ministry of Labor in the Makkah region found 250 laborers working on various construction projects during restricted hours of the day. Punitive measures will be taken against the employers of these workers. According to a ministerial decr...
JEDDAH: When poverty is your guest for 15 years, gardens, parks, streets and pavements become your abode under the unavoidable scorching sun. One has to face hardships of hunger and survive on breadcrumbs. This is the situation of a 60-year-old Saudi...
JEDDAH: The negative attitudes of society in dealing with harassment and abuse cases prevent victims from reporting a great number of such cases to the authorities.Despite this, about 3,982 cases reached the country's criminal courts in 1435 and 1436...
AL-QATIF: The Omani security forces have arrested a man who, they said, accidentally fired a bullet that hit a young Saudi girl in a hotel in Musandam on Saturday. Four-year-old Zainab bint Mohammed Labad of Al-Awamiyah was playing in the hotel lobby...
Ramon Corvera, deputy chief of mission at the Argentinian Embassy in Riyadh.* Which particular aspect of Saudi Arabia you like the most? The natural beauty of the desert.* What is your favorite and oft-repeated Arabic word? Masha’Allah.* Which book i...
JEDDAH: The creativity and entrepreneurship community program of Umm Al-Qura University brought together 80 creative entrepreneurs to exchange their experiences and knowledge on Monday. Fawaz Saad, the dean of the institute for innovation and entrepr...
RIYADH: The August issue of ‘Nature’, the monthly magazine of King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST), will focus on Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) corona, which has affected 1,055 people in the Kingdom since June 2012.The to...
LILLE, France: Saudi Arabia’s firm stand against the phenomenon of violence as well as religious, ethnic and cultural fanaticism came in for praise at an international symposium, which concluded here.The participants of the symposium on "Media Covera...

Stay Connected

Facebook