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Drought reduces livestock exports out of northern Somalia
Sabahi Online
Saturday, August 25, 2012

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Drought in Somaliland has reduced annual livestock exports to Gulf Arab countries and will lead to significant financial losses for farmers and the state, officials say.

This year, exports are expected to decrease by approximately 800,000 head of cattle, which will result in a $5.6 million loss in tax revenue for Somaliland, said Mohamed Shukri Jama, chairman of the Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture.

Jama told Sabahi the drop will also cost farmers up to $64 million in losses. "In addition, there is the money that traders would have received," he said.

Drought has continued to affect the region in 2012, with the Awdal, Sahil, and Sanaag provinces recording below average seasonal rains, Somaliland Administration President Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo said in July.

The drought has reduced the number of livestock brought to the markets, and consequently prices have risen, said Abdisalam Siad Abdullahi, a merchant in the Hargeisa livestock market. A goat costs around $100 now, while in 2011, it would have sold for $75 in the pre-hajj season, he said.

Most of the livestock is sold in the hajj season between August and October, and a great number is exported to Saudi Arabia, where every Muslim pilgrim is expected to sacrifice an animal on Eid al-Adha.

In the past two weeks, the port of Berbera has seen the export of about 3,000 goats and camels, 95% of which have been shipped to Saudi Arabia, Abdullahi told Sabahi. "In the coming weeks, we hope the daily count will be 20,000 animals," he said. Aside from Saudi Arabia, livestock is also transported to the United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Libya, Bahrain, Oman and Egypt.

Khadija Diriye, a 50-year-old cattle farmer from Garbo-Dadar in the Awdal region, said she has lost at least half of her 217 goats and camels because of the drought. "This time in 2011, I brought seven animals to the market. However, this year I only found two in my herd that were in selling condition," she said.

Nearly a quarter of Somaliland's livestock dead

Since the end of 2011, the drought has killed about a quarter of the estimated 18 million livestock in Somaliland, said Mohamud Mohamed Agaweyne, director general of the Somaliland Ministry of Livestock.

Somaliland is in the process of implementing a program to prevent the further death of animals as a result of hunger and thirst. "We want to create cordoned-off pastures in the six provinces so that the animals will have access to pasture if other pastures are exhausted during droughts," Agaweyne said.

Part of this program involves the creation of dams to harness water for planting pastures and for storing water, he said.

The project, which may begin before the end of this year, is a collaboration between the ministries of livestock, agriculture, and environment and rural development, Agaweyne said.

He told Sabahi the Somaliland Ministry of Livestock vaccinated about 4 million goats between the months of May and July to prevent the contagious disease ovine rinderpest.

Berbera has two veterinary inspection units where animals' health is assessed before they are exported, Agaweyne said.

He said 3.5 million goats, camels and cows were exported from the Berbera port in 2011, and the total loss in revenue from this year's drought will be clearer once the export numbers are tallied after the hajj season.

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