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Somalia's livestock exports to meet international safety standards

Monday, December 24, 2012
By Adnan Hussein

Somali citizens gather at a small livestock market near Beledweyne in November. The government hopes to increase exports of sheep, cows and camels to the Middle East from the al-Jazira health and inspection facility in Mogadishu. [Stuart Price/AFP]

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Nearly six months after its opening, the al-Jazira animal health facility and quarantine centre in Mogadishu is preparing to export its first shipment of livestock in March, according to officials.

All livestock at the facility undergoes evaluation and treatment to ensure it passes international health safety standards before they are approved by the government for live export, said Mohamed Mohamud, director of agricultural development at the Ministry of Natural Resources.

The facility, which was opened on July 28th in a ceremony attended by former President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, is owned by private Somali investors and is managed under the supervision and guidance of the Somali Ministry of Natural Resources, he said.

"Our health department is charged with supervising the new facility and will quarantine sick animals," Mohamud told Sabahi. "Diseased animals will be slaughtered and either burned or buried in order to prevent contamination of shipments."

Al-Jazira animal health facility and quarantine centre in Somalia. [Adnan Hussein/Sabahi]

The livestock undergoing evaluation will be exported to Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt, he said, adding that the ministry is committed to provide healthy livestock at suitable market prices.

The facility was built over three years and can hold 250,000 heads of cattle. The compound comprises grazing grounds and a water basin for sheep, cows and camels, as well as inspection facilities staffed with veterinarians and trained support staff.

The project is part of a wide range of initiatives the government is supporting to revitalise Somalia's economy.

Somali Minister of Natural Resources Abdirizaq Omar Mohamed said his ministry is actively working with investors to develop agricultural production, improve food safety and strengthen exports with regional trading partners.

Attracting private investors and building the infrastructure necessary to successfully export Somalia's natural resources are a top priority for the ministry, Mohamed told Sabahi.

"We will soon be able to celebrate our ambitious economic goals and [Somalia] will be able, one day, to survive without external aid," he said.

Mohamed said the ministry is currently working with private investors to resume the export of bananas, once a booming source of revenue for the country.

The minister urged Somalis and foreign businesspersons to invest in Somalia and take advantage of the many lucrative opportunities available for developing the country's abundant natural resources.

Deynaba Makaraan Barow, a 44-year-old pastoralist from Lower Shabelle, said the government's involvement in facilitating and promoting livestock exports is an encouraging sign.

"The livestock trade during the days of the former central government [before the civil war] was a significant source of economic stimulus for the country," Barow told Sabahi. She said she is hopeful that Somali herders can once again export their livestock at those same levels.


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