Somaliland: seeks alternative livestock markets to that of Saudi Arabia

Days after the Minister for Agriculture, Water and Environment Abdulah bin Abd – ur – Rahman Al- Hossein issued a statement in which he announced the existence of unidentified disease to be the main reason behind the provisional suspension of the imports of both Somaliland and Somalia livestock, the Republic of Somaliland were quick to defend the healthfulness of its livestock and that the exportation of its livestock is fully complied according to the international standard for animal welfare conditions and that they pass health verification check before shipping them to Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia has been a major market for Somaliland’s livestock, as millions of animals (goats, sheep and cattle) are exported from Berbera and shipped across the Gulf of Aden to Saudi Arabia, destined for ceremonial slaughter in the lead-up to the annual Hajj pilgrimage in Mecca.

“President of Somaliland Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo has had a meeting regarding the reasons that led the temporary suspension of the importation of Somaliland animals by the Saudi Arabia government with the Ministers of Livestock, Finance, Trade and Foreign Affairs and the biggest livestock traders in his office. The president has been briefed that Somaliland’s livestock are healthy and are far from any sicknesses,” This has been stated in a press statement issued by the Presidential Spokesman Mr. Hussein Deyr.

“Minister for Livestock Abdilahi Dahir Ukuse says, before Somaliland livestock are exported to Saudi Arabia, initially they are trucked to the quarantine centers – which are according to the International standard – in Berbera city for checking, where they receive blood tests and vaccinations.”

President Silanyo after discussion, he appointed 9 members committee – 5 from cabinet members and another 4 from businessmen – who will be working for getting an alternative market for Somaliland livestock, as he likewise urged them to leave no stone unturned in order to have Saudi Arabia’s livestock provisional suspension lifted.

According to Livestock Minister, International Organizations for Livestock’s health including OIE, FOA, and AU-IBAR will be conducting a full report on the fact of the health condition of Somaliland livestock. He says the aim of this measure is how Somaliland will try to convince Saudi government that its livestock are healthy, in order for the ban to be lifted.

Cabinet members in the meantime, raised their concern as they spoke about the negative impact that the suspension of the livestock by the Saudi government will have on Somaliland economy, as the annual export of animals from Somaliland to Saudi Arabia remains vital importance for the country. They told that every year Somaliland exports millions of livestock, particularly goats and sheep to Saudi Arabia for use as sacrificial offerings for the millions of Muslim faithful making the pilgrimage to Mecca.

This is going to be a bad news for Somaliland pastoralists and traders, as according to reports, the livestock trade to the Middle East and particularly Saudi Arabia Kingdom accounts for 60 percent of Somaliland’s gross domestic product and 70 percent of its jobs.

Saudi Arabia banned Somalia’s livestock in 2000 after the outbreak of the Rift Valley Fever in the Horn of Africa region, but lifted the ban in early 2015, following the establishment of the Saudi-owned quarantine centers including Saudi-Emirates International Veterinary Quarantine Management Company (SEIVQMC) at Berbera city. The quarantine centers check the health condition of the animals and provide vaccinations before exportation.

Mohamoud Qodah is the Co-editor of the Somaliland Monitor. He also serves as the assistant editor-in-Chief of the Republican English weekly newspaper published by Jamhuuriya media Group.