Horndiplomat- Livestock production accounts for between 60–65% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), employs over 70% of the population and contributes 85% of export earnings (MoNPD 2012). In 2014, a total of 3.4 million heads of livestock were exported, of which 3.1 million were sheep and goats, 0.25 million cattle and 60,000 camels (SLCCIA 2015).
Assuming an average export price of USD78 for sheep and goats, USD596 for cattle and USD650 for camels, based on the Somaliland Chamber of Commerce Industry and Agriculture (SLCCIA) livestock market information system, the estimated total value was over USD426 million.
As the government charges a tax of USD3.5, 15 and 17 on every small ruminant, cattle beast and camel exported respectively, this translates into USD15.5 million as direct government revenue from livestock exports, making up over 15% of total government revenue (see also Nasir 2014).
At household level, among pastoralists, especially those classified as poor, 50–80% of income is derived from sale of livestock, and 25–30% of food comes from livestock products (USAID 2013). Cattle, sheep and goats in three grades (viz. I, II and III) and camels in two grades (I and II) are exported to a number of countries.
In order of importance, these are: the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (henceforth referred to as Saudi Arabia), Yemen, Oman, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (SLCCIA 2013). In 2014, Saudi Arabia accounted for about 79% of small ruminants and 90% of camels; Yemen’s share was 49% of cattle and 18% of small ruminants, while Oman accounted for about 43% of cattle.
This implies that Saudi Arabia is the principal destination market for small ruminants and camels, while Yemen and Oman share cattle exports. There has been sufficient documentation of the grading of export quality livestock (cattle, sheep, goats and camels) from the source markets within the Somali ecosystem (see for example Negassa et al.
2008; Mugunieri et al. 2012; and, www.somalilandchamber.com). However, there is limited information in the public domain about the grading of livestock of Somaliland origin in the end markets (importing countries). The most recent and detailed Somaliland livestock end-market study focused on the relative competitiveness of Somali livestock in the Gulf Cooperation Council, comprising Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) (USAID 2013).
To redress this gap, a rapid appraisal of quality characteristics required by importers in Saudi Arabia was carried out. Its goal was to assess and document livestock requirements in terms of age, conformation, body condition and pricing of commercial grades in Saudi Arabia and to evaluate how this was interfaced with the grading and pricing practices used in Somaliland. It was envisaged that the information generated would enable identification of key attributes required in the main end-markets and facilitate their integration into husbandry practices in Somaliland. In the medium term, this would enable Somaliland producers align their production to market demand as a strategy of strengthening their market presence.