This is the highest number of live animals exported from Somalia in the past 20 years, an achievement attributed in part to heavy investment in animal disease prevention backed by the EU and UK.
The export data, collected by the UN’s food and agricultural organisation’s (FAO) food security and nutrition analysis unit (FSNAU), indicated that Somalia exported 4.6 million goats and sheep, 340,000 cattle and 77,000 camels in 2014, worth an estimated $360 million, to markets in the Gulf of Arabia.
Livestock is the mainstay of the Somali economy, contributing 40% to the country’s GDP.
"This is a key milestone for Somalia’s livestock sector that reflects the large investments being made to support the commercial development of the livestock sector to become more competitive in international markets," said Said Hussein Iid, Somalia’s Minister of Livestock, Forestry and Range. "This is important for both Somalia’s economy in general and for the livelihoods of the millions of livestock owners throughout Somalia."
"This shows that despite the challenges, the Somali people are successfully working to improve their economy and food security," said Richard Trenchard, head of FAO’s office for Somalia. "FAO and our partners are committed to remaining engaged and involved in supporting those efforts."
Saudi Arabia, in particular, has contributed to steadily rising exports over the last six years, following a move to lift a nine year ban on the import of livestock from Somalia aimed at preventing the spread of Rift Valley fever.
In addition to animal health campaigns, four modern slaughterhouses, four meat markets and three livestock markets are also boosting local livestock trade across Somalia.
"There is no doubt that livestock is, and will remain for a long time, central to the Somali economy," said Trenchard.