Livestock trade in Somalia is booming in Somalia, with over 1,500 cattle exported this week alone. Other animal exported by Somali farmers include sheep, goats and camels. A recent report by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) indicates Somalia exported over 5 million livestock in 2014 to markets in the Gulf of Arabia, the highest number of live animals exported from Somalia in the last 20 years, and among the highest world over.
These included 4.6 million goats and sheep, 340,000 cattle and 77,000 camels, worth an estimated $360 million and contributing 40% to the country’s GDP. This boost in livestock exports has been attributed to improved security, enabling the country’s farmers to conduct business without hindrance. This is coupled with increased demand especially from the Arab countries and further supported by a massive rollout of veterinary extension services by the government with the support of international partners. This has greatly improved both the quality and quantity of animals.
Abdul Kadir Ali Gab, the Managing Director of Jazeera International Company, one of the exporting firms says the improved security in the country has enabled the big boost in business: “This year, we have recorded an increase in livestock exports due to the improving security situation. More people are participating in the rearing and exporting of livestock, which we find encouraging. We have already exported five ships to Oman and we intend to export five more ships of cattle and sheep to Iraq and the Emirates,” he says.
Livestock farming is the largest contributor to Somali livelihoods with over 65% of the population engaged in the industry: “Somali people are largely pastoralists and depend on livestock for their livelihood, livestock is a not a new thing in this country. The pastoral families now have access to new international markets to sell their livestock. This encourages them to rear more and high quality animals for export,” Abdul Kadir Ali Gab says.