BERBERA (Somalilandpress) — A large livestock vessel has left the port town of Berbera last night bound for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia after removing an 11-year ban on livestock imports from Somaliland.

On its maiden voyage, the MV Bader III, a converted cattle ship built in France was carrying 24-thousand livestock consisting of sheep, rams and goats. The ship was also carrying one-thousand camels.

This is the second shipment of livestock to the Kingdom since the Hajj pilgrim.
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Saudi Arabia, along with UAE account for 90 per cent of Somaliland livestock exports. Before the lift of the Saudi embargo, Somaliland exported about two million sheep to the United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Djibouti and Ethiopia. More than 250, 000 head of cattle and camels are annually sold in the country. Somaliland livestock exports are said be worth $250 million.

Suleiman Al Jabiry, a Saudi livestock investor, completed a $5-million quarantine centre in the port city in early 2009. Many Somaliland traders were originally opposed to the facility and Al Jabiry Company but last night a statement containing the names of twenty-six local investors was issued hailing Mr Al Jabiry as “companion”.

The investors said Al-Jabiry Company revived Somaliland’s livestock that was hampered through years of lack of investment, insufficient trained manpower and the absence of a relevant legal and regulatory framework to enforce rules and regulations, health standards and quality control that led to the embargo being imposed.

Thousands of more livestock are expected to be shipped to the Middle East in the coming weeks from Berbera.

In 2003, MV Bader III came under-fire from Australian animal welfare groups insisting that the ship lacked basic animal care. “Troughs too high for majority of sheep and sheep under watered and underfed,” they said in a letter to the Minister for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Mr Kimberley (Kim) Maurice Chance.

Here in Somaliland, a beacon of stability in the troubled Horn of Africa is an unrecognised state, the economy is largely based on the sale of sheep, goats, camels and cattle and no one dares to question animal welfare.

Somaliland public simply sees it as trade and certainly they do not have the options and luxury Australians have. Survival is the key and livestock is the major repository of individual and national wealth.

Aside from livestock, the port also handles food aid and other cargo bound for landlocked Ethiopia and is currently busy unloading four shipments of food aid. An official from World Food Program, the world’s largest humanitarian agency told local reporters that WFP hopes to deliver 30,000 tonnes of food aid each month bound for Ethiopia.

The transportation of the emergency aid was awarded to local Somaliland logistics company called Towfiq.

Berbera corridor handled 84, 000 tonnes of international food aid for Ethiopia in 2009.

Source: Somalilandpress, 3 January 2009