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Saudi Allows Somali Cattle Imports

17 November 2009

SAUDI ARABIA - East African traders have started shipping live cattle from Somalia to Saudi Arabia for the first time in a decade after Saudi King Abdullah lifted a ban on Somali livestock.

The lifting of the ban coincided with the current pilgrimage season – a time when demand for meat is high – and a renewed effort by the kingdom to foster better relations with East African nations, according to The Media Line.

The Saudis lifted the ban, originally imposed for fear of diseases such as Rift Valley Fever, after it was agreed that health officials could monitor the importation of live animals.

The Saudi Ministry of Agriculture issued a statement saying the ban was lifted to secure supplies of "livestock at reasonable prices" for locals and pilgrims during the upcoming Eid Al-Adha and Hajj season. The ministry emphasised there will be strict enforcement of animal health legislation and all imported live animals will be scanned for potential diseases.

Officials in Somalia and the breakaway region of Somaliland praised the decision and initial reports from the Horn of Africa nation say the cattle trade has boomed. Over half a million animals are reportedly expected to be imported within the next few weeks.

While there is an enormous seasonal demand for fresh livestock, analysts are citing political expediency as a catalyst for the lifting of the ban.

The decision came amid a Saudi effort to improve relations with East African nations as the Saudi-East African Forum opened this week in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

TheCattleSite News Desk



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