Somalia's livestock exports grew 6 percent to 5.3 million head in 2015.

Somalia’s livestock exports grow aimd increased demand in Mideast

Latest data from a UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report shows Somalia exported 4.9 million goats and sheep, 295,000 cattle and 72,000 camels last year.

Livestock contributes 40 percent to the Somalia’s Gross Domestic Product, with its exports being the Horn of Africa nation’s leading foreign exchange earner.

The growth has been boosted by continued export-focused interventions, “good prices”, and growing markets in the Middle East, analysts say.

Saudi Arabia continued to be a key market for Somali livestock, according to Khalid Saeed, the head of FAO’s livestock sector in Somalia.

“Somalia saw increased demand in 2015 for live animals in the Gulf, mainly due to increased investment in animal health services by FAO and other organizations, which is key condition imposed by the importing countries,” Saeed said.

Over 2,600 Somali camels were sold to Egypt in 2015, the first time since civil conflict broke out in Somalia some 25 years ago, the report said.

Livestock in most parts of Somalia are sold by visual evaluation. Sheep or goats of local breeds weighing about 35 to 40 kg can be sold at an equivalent price of 50 dollars.

Borana breed cattle, with an average body weight of 300 kg, is sold at about 300 dollars, while camels weighing 300 kg are sold at about 700 dollars per head.

“Analysis of these average farm-gate prices indicates that Somali livestock producers could have earned more than 380 million dollars in 2015 from animal exports,” the report said.

The FAO last year increased its animal health-focused activities, including the vaccination of 12 million animals across Somalia against peste des petits ruminants — a highly contagious and often deadly viral disease of goats.

The vaccination of over 30 million animals over the last four years in Somalia has helped Somalia achieve herd immunity of 76 percent, the report said.

Somalia’s Minister of Livestock, Forestry and Range, Said Hussein Iid, said the government was pleased with the remarkable growth in livestock exports, adding that there is still much more to do to grow this sector.

“We need to diversity into new markets, make sure that livestock have good year round access to high quality fodder and continue to build a national system for managing animal health across the whole of Somalia,” he said.

Previous health concerns led to an economically-crippling nine-year export ban on Somali livestock in 2000.

Richard Trenchard, FAO’s Country Representative for Somalia, said the UN agency would continue to mobilize technical and financial resources to ensure that Somalia’s livestock sector regains its past glossy as a major player in the global livestock industry.

Source: NewsGhana, April 2016