BERBERA — Livestock traders in Somaliland welcomed the latest development in Saudi Arabia after the kingdom announced on Friday it will increase livestock imports from the Horn of Africa by two-fold by 2012.
A press release from the Ministry of Agriculture and Water said Saudi Arabia plans to import close to 2 million heads of a livestock that comprise of sheep, goats, camels and cattle. These imports will targets markets in Djibouti, Somaliland and Somalia. The decision to increase imports follows after Saudi Arabia’s quarantine officials at the Port of Jeddah declared animals from the Horn were disease free, great in quality and strong demand in the local market. Furthermore, the decision was designed to stabilize the local meat market with many Saudis complaining of rising food prices.
Saudi livestock importers already operate a major quarantine facility in the port of Djibouti, two in Somaliland’s Berbera port and one in Somalia’s port of Bosasso.
The two facilities in the Red Sea port of Berbera in Somaliland’s Sahil region have the combined capacity to house 2-2.5 million heads. A third facility owned by Saudi livestock tycoon, Mr. Suleiman Al-Jabiri is currently under construction that will cost $2 million and will hold 1.5 million heads. About four months ago, a Saudi delegation consisting of doctors and vets visited the Berbera facilities and declared both quarantines meet international standards.
Similarly, Somaliland is currently pushing forward with plans to export processed meat and livestock to Malaysia after Malaysian investors agreed to explore business opportunities in Somaliland with some already establishing abattoirs in the country. They say its part of the over all plan by Malaysia to become a “global centre for Halal food and related products”. Malaysia imports over 85 percent of its meat needs except poultry and desparetely needs a Halal market its citizens can trust. Two-third of its meat imports currently comes from India.
In December 2010, a team from IGAD, an East African organization focusing on drought control and development, led by Executive Secretary, Eng. Mahboub Maalim visited the Sheikh Technical Veterinary School (STVS) in Somaliland during a graduation ceremony. Mr. Maalim said, IGAD would take over the management of the school from Terra Nuova, an Italian NGO. Mr. Maalim told local media, IGAD plans to develop the capacity of STVS by bringing on board technical teams and institutions such as Interafrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR), International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and Makerere University, one of the leading universities in Uganda.
The news was well received by livestock traders and animal farmers alike across the Horn of Africa but a devastating drought savaging the region might hurt the current demands.
In October 2009, Saudi Arabia relaxed a eleven-year ban on Somaliland livestock and Somaliland animals have been steadily on high demand in the Saudi Kingdom ever since. Livestock market is estimated to be worth $250-million annually in Somaliland. The main markets for livestock from Somaliland are Saudi Arabia, UAE, Oman and Yemen.