The livestock sector is the largest contributor to Somali livelihoods with over 65% of the population engaged in some way in the industry. Livestock is an important mainstay in Somalia’s economy, contributing to about 40% of the country’s gross domestic product. In 2015, Somalia exported record 5.3 million animals, the highest such figure in two decades, according to the Food and Agriculture (FAO) organization. Livestock exports are the largest traded commodity in Somalia. In 2015 alone, traders pocketed $384 million in exports, and the industry witnessed an annual growth of 6%. FAO numbers estimate that the country has 13.9 million sheep, 13.2 million goats, 7.1 million camels, and 5.3 million cattle.
Exports of livestock and their products account for 80 percent of exports in normal years but exports have been periodically interrupted by droughts and international bans. The industry has not always been as robust as it is today. Saudi Arabia banned Somalia’s livestock in 2000 following the outbreak of the Rift Valley Fever in the Horn of Africa region. The ban, which lasted for nine years till 2009, disrupted exports, and caused significant economic and trade losses. Despite the ban imposed by Saudi Arabia, livestock exports continue to be the largest traded commodity for Somalia. Livestock are shipped to various countries in the Arabian Peninsula, and trekked or transported to markets in Kenya, Djibouti, and Ethiopia. Livestock also enter Somalia through the borders with Ethiopia and Kenya. Furthermore, livestock is a key local consumption commodity for household food security.
Pastoralists exist throughout Somalia with high concentrations of strict pastoralists in the north and central areas and pastoralists and agro-pastoralists in the southern areas. Throughout greater Somalia (including areas of Ethiopia and Kenya), rainfall patterns force a complex series of movements in search of grazing-land between the different seasons. The country can be generally divided into four ecological zones these are the Northern, Central, Southern and Trans- Jubba ecological zones. Domestic animals such as camel, cattle, sheep and goats are widely distributed throughout all regions of these zones.
SONRREC identified the following key Livestock research areas to be conducted urgently to address the key challenge of this important sector:
Identified Priorities Research areas in Livestock sector of Somalia:
1- Assessment of tick infestation and its effect in Camel production in punt land and Somali land sate, Somalia.
2- Sustainable livestock systems to improve human health, nutrition, and economic status in Somalia.
3- Livestock feed resources in Southern Somalia: The case of dusamareb district.
4- Camels of Somalia: Production System, Phenotypic Characterization.
5- Seasonal variation in milk production of camel (Camelus dromedarius) under semi-intensive system, Galmudug State, Somalia.
6- Prevalence of bovine trypanosomosis and assessment of knowledge and practices of livestock owners in the control of Trypanosomosis in Jilib District of lower juba region, Juba land State, Somalia.
7- Abomasal nematode parasites in goats slaughtered in Burca town, northern Somalia.
8- Assessment of distribution of Trypanosoma evansi in Southren Somalia.
9- Factors Militating Against Animal Production in Somalia.
10- Challenges, Opportunities and Management Practice of poultry Production in lower Shabelle region, Somalia