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Sunday, November 8, 2009

Somalia sees growth in Gulf exports

(Medeshi)

MOGADISHU: Somali livestock exports to the Gulf States are expected to double to one million animals this month after the Saudi government lifted a long-standing ban, traders and a company official said on Saturday.

Saudi Arabia, formerly the biggest buyer of Somali livestock, lifted the nine-year ban this week to secure meat supplies for Haj pilgrims.
Riyadh had imposed it due to concerns about a lack of proper health screening in the lawless Horn of Africa nation. Somalia has had no central government for 18 years and livestock exports, along with bananas and fish, are the mainstay of its trade with the Middle East.
“The demand is higher because of the Haj and we expect a hundred percent increase. I suspect that we can meet the needs of the market,” said Iman Ali, chairman of exporting firm East Africa Livestock.
He said that 60,000 livestock were ready to be exported to Saudi Arabia in a few days, but the business faced many problems.
On top of frequent fighting between Islamist insurgents and the forces of President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, bad weather, dilapidated infrastructure and piracy were hindering trade.
“Though we plan to send more livestock, heavy rains, poor roads and increased insurance premiums are hampering transportation to our partners in the Gulf,” Ali said.
Animal exports account for 40 percent of Somalia’s Gross Domestic Product.
The Middle East is the main export destination with other Asian countries accounting for very small portions of the trade.
“Lifting of the ban is most welcome news in our village... merchants are coming to our villages and even in the remote areas to buy sheep and goats,” said Muhumad Soomane, a farmer in Wallaweyn, 90km southwest of Mogadishu.
The semi-autonomous Puntland region in the northeast is expected to contribute 60 percent of the livestock heading to the Middle East market.
Ahmed Hussein, livestock minister in Putland’s regional government, said it would invest in the port of Bossaso to allow it to cope with increased exports.
“We are working on renovating and completing all necessary equipment for Bossaso port after resumption of exports to Saudi,” he said.
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