A record five million heads of livestock were sold to countries in the Gulf, representing the highest number of animals exported from the East African nation for 20 years.
The revelation was made by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), which said the figure included 4.6mn goats and sheep, 340,000 cattle and 77,000 camels, estimating their total worth at US$360mn.
“This shows that despite the challenges, the Somali people are successfully working to improve their economy and food security,” said Richard Trenchard, head of the FAO’s Somali office. “FAO and our partners are committed to remaining engaged and involved in supporting those efforts.”
The improved figures are largely down to heavy investment by the FAO, EU and UK in measures to prevent animal diseases; previously a major concern leading to import bans from countries like Saudi Arabia, which have recently been lifted.
The Somali livestock sector has also been aided by the construction of four modern slaughterhouses, four meat markets and three livestock markets, while the FAO has also developed a livestock certification system to help ensure quality.
Livestock is the mainstay of the Somali economy, accounting for around 40 per cent to the country's GDP.