Sunday April 19, 2020
Some of nearly a million goats and sheep wait at the Berbera port in Somaliland, before being shipped to Saudi Arabia for the Hajj /JASON PATINKIN
Mogadishu (HOL) - Saudi Arabia has announced that it will temporarily lift the ban on importing livestock from Somalia.
In a statement released by the government-run news agency SPA, The Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture (MEWA) said that it will import at least 600,000 sheep and 100,000 camels within the next 30 days, after the expiration of the quarantine period.
The statement stresses that this decision was made after satisfying all health conditions.
Livestock is the backbone of Somalia's pastoralist economy, contributing to about 40% of the country's GDP. According to the Food and Agriculture (FAO) organization, a record 5.3 million animals were exported in 2015. In that same year, trader's netted $385 million in exports.
The vast majority of those animals were sent to the Arabian peninsula to satisfy their meat-heavy diet. Saudi Arabia is the biggest market for Somali livestock, which receives more than two-thirds of the goats, sheep and camels leaving Somalia's ports. The bulk of these imports takes place during the Hajj and Eid ul-Adha when Muslims are expected to sacrifice an animal as part of the Hajj rituals.
It is said that the Saudi Arabian's prefer the black-headed Somali goat as it is less fatty than it's New Zealand and Australian counterparts.
However, the industry has been through several rough patches over the years. Somalia was subject to a nine-year ban by Saudi Arabia from 2000 to 2009 after an outbreak of the Rift Valley Fever (RVF) in the Horn of Africa. Saudi Arabia banned Somali livestock imports again in September 2016 following another RVF outbreak.