BERBERA, 10 November 2009 (Somalilandpress) — Days after Saudi Arabia lifted a nine-year ban on livestock imports from Somalia, the market in Hargeisa, Somaliland, has seen a 10-fold increase in sales, according to local traders.

“One thousand five hundred sheep used to be sold in the market before the recent announcement… compared to more than 16,000 animals in the market daily in the last few days,” Jama Farah Du’alle, a middleman (`dilal’) in the market, told IRIN on 7 November.

Livestock keepers in the self-declared republic of Somaliland, whose mainstay is pastoralism, said they were beginning to see a change in their fortunes.

“In the last nine years I used to earn 5,000-10,000 Somaliland shillings a day [US $1.6 – 3.2] but by Allah’s mercy in the past few days I have been earning 60,000-70,000 a day, which has really improved my life,” Du’alle said.

Somaliland’s livestock minister, Idiris Ibrahim Abdi, announced the Saudi move on 5 November. Imposed in late 2000, the ban followed an outbreak of Rift Valley Fever (RVF) in the Horn of Africa region.

RVF is an acute viral infectious disease of humans, cattle and sheep, which usually occurs during the rainy season. Clinically it is characterized by fever, loss of body coordination and sudden death.

Saudi Arabia, which used to be the biggest buyer of Somali livestock, said it had lifted the ban to coincide with the `haj’ pilgrimage later in November.

Better days for Berbera

The decision allows livestock keepers to ship animals to Saudi Arabia through Somaliland’s traditional livestock port of Berbera. In the past, the port also served livestock trucked from the neighbouring Ethiopian regions of Somali and Oromiya.

Berbera had been losing its importance as a business centre since 2000. Thousands of people there moved to other towns such as Hargeisa and Burao.
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“[Most] of the young men who used to work in the livestock export business as animal herders on vessels heading to Saudi Arabia, have moved to Arab countries or other urban centres within Somaliland,” a local resident said.

The Saudi decision, according to local pastoralists, has renewed hope that Somali livestock can fetch a good price. “We have suffered in the last few years because of the ban; our animals had no value in the market.

“For example one lamb was valued at only about US$20, which is much less than the cost of foodstuff,” said Rashid Haybe Illeeye, from the Lebi-Sagaale region along the Somaliland-Ethiopia border.

“Today I came with four lambs as usual – to buy food – and three of them were bought at $40-50,” Illeeye said.

A local journalist based in Burao told IRIN that the lifting of the ban was a boon to all. “The market has not seen such activity for nine years,” he explained. “The whole of Burao – from tea ladies, truckers and nomads, to porters – is doing a booming business.”

Source: IRIN


  1. Good news thats what im talking about its all about Berbera and Somaliland, back in the old Somalia, the whole nation exported two things, Banana from Mogadishu and livestock from Berbera, it seems that the livestock is back so we dont need their rotten bananas, lets keep our animals safe and do things right.

  2. We will be better of if we build a meat packing factory in both Hargeisa and Berbera. Buy few refrigerated containers to ship our meat to neigbouring country and beyond. It will make us independent and self-efficiency. It will also cut the cost of shipment and will reduce animals dying while in transit. Then we will probably not need Saudis who hit us hard on the belly at our lowest time. All we need is good management and honesty handling the port of Berbera. Everything else will fall into place. It is only a suggestion, but it is up to the government of Somaliland.

  3. I see the anti-Somaliland forces at IRIN failed to mention the new animal husbandry centre at Berbera, the only one of its kind in the region, as being one of the reasons why the Saudi's have come to their sense, also, by crippling the economy of the ordinary Somalilander and Somali, the Saudi's were giving a boost the radicals in the region.

    Somaliland's cause is just, in Allah's mercy, all its enemies efforts are thwarted.

    Weligood ama IRIN ama xafiiska siyaasada ee UNka ha ku soo dabo dhuuntaan, Waar, Somaliland waxba kama qaadi kaarin oo Allaahu Subxaana Wa Tacaal baa u ummadaa muslinka ah u naxariisanaya..

  4. let be agood gorvenors who is honest hardworking and had the skills of leadership in Berbera otherwise -alshabaab will be there

    becouse of let down of local people in justice and mis managments of current Udub regime for lack of vision and effort -fro them attracting investment -like DJbouti President has achieved and convinced Dubai Bussiness men torun their port and they refurbished the port attracted the bigger shipment opportunities

    the history will tell how berbera people will respon to current general election to secure the future and not allow anyone to hiacked thier future whethere its the current impotant Commercial Minister who only cares about himself ,

    please wake up and us proad somlilanders so that we can once and for all say Berbera is an international port and they have got a progressive people who are not following the crowd.

  5. Well for long they have used the Saudis as excuse let's see now if they can fight corruptions and conduct a proper business and stay competitive in the region.

    No more excuses Berbera authority! your the most corrupted people in East Africa.

  6. It is good news even if the open Arab market continue for days. Somaliland businessmen and those who have the money should look other markets as well.

    We shouldn’t depend on Saudi markets becuase soon or later they would tell us that our livestocks has Rift Valley. It has nothing to do with the health of the animals but they were just protecting their markets. I don’t blame them becuase many nations have this and Saudi has no different.

    It called protectionist and the idea is to limit what goes in to your markets. Those people who think old Somalia has only banana think again. Somalia has one of world class fish market. It has billions of dollars deal with EU.

    The reason that they open up the market is that Eid is coming and their market can’t sustain the needs. Right after the Eid our animals would stop again.
    Now Somalis are all over the world and we should open new markets and go beyond the old same market. We can stil keep the old markets but if that shut down we wouldn’t worry.

  7. all the somaliland community welcome the good news that saudi move boosts the somali livestock and i would like to thanks here the government of s/land who is honest and done hard work to established the quarantine by searching market their livestock
    also it is important to acknowledgement the livestock minister Dr: Idris ibrahim abdi
    who took important role to establish the quarantine

  8. Those ex mooryaans (government) are all useless they do nothing but talk cheap, they so corrupted.

    I have no faith in them, Somaliland is coming back because of the ordinary people.