Agriculture in Somalia
Agriculture in Somalia (Somali: Beeraha Soomaaliya) is a major employment activity and is the largest economic sector in the country. It contributes more than 65% to the national GDP from domestic distribution and exports to other parts of the continent, the Middle East and Europe.
Somalia's economy consists of both traditional and modern production, with a gradual shift in favor of modern industrial techniques taking root. Agriculture is the most important economic sector. It accounts for about 65% of the GDP and employs 65% of the workforce. Livestock alone contributes about 40% to GDP and more than 50% of export earnings.
According to the Central Bank of Somalia, about 80% of the population are nomadic or semi-nomadic pastoralists, who keep camels, goats, sheep and cattle. The herders also gather resins and gums to supplement their income.
Camel, sheep and goat herding are the main types of local pastoralism, particularly in the northern part of the country. Livestock include the Somali goat and Somali sheep. The Somali goat is used primarily for the production of meat. Both males and females have horns, although females are often polled. The goats are drought tolerant and, when milked, can each yield one to three kilograms of milk daily, even when access to water is limited. The Somali sheep is the direct forebear of the Blackhead Persian, the latter of which was bred in South Africa between the late 19th century to early 20th century and has been extensively used for crossbreeding in many tropical areas. It belongs to the fat-tail type, and both of the breed's genders are polled. The animal is mainly reared for meat production, and is a major export of the Somalian economy, particularly to the Arabian peninsula.
With the advantage of being located near the Arabian peninsula, Somali traders have increasingly begun to challenge Australia's traditional dominance over the Gulf Arab livestock and meat market, offering quality animals at very low prices. In response, Gulf Arab states have started to make strategic investments in the country, with Saudi Arabia building livestock export infrastructure and the United Arab Emirates purchasing large farmlands.
A ten year-old manufacturing, distributing, wholesale and import/export company, the Bosaso Tannery processes wet salted, dry salted, wet blue, limed, pickled, and air/frame dried sheep and goat hides and skin. It has some of the highest quality natural skins on the continent. The firm exports a little over 90,000 tonnes of hides and skins every year from Bosaso to Ethiopia, Turkey, Pakistan, India, China and Italy. Raw camel hides and sheep and goat skin are also dispatched to the United Arab Emirates. The wet blue type is exported to the Middle East and various parts of Europe. As of 2012, the company is moving toward ready-made leather production for eventual exportation to consumer markets in the Middle East and other areas.
In 2007, the Burao city authority in conjunction with development organizations and local traders also opened the Burco Meat and Produce complex. One year in the making, the market has two main halls and can accommodate more than 2000 merchants.
Somalia's farming areas are concentrated in the southern part of the country, in the Gedo, Middle Juba, Lower Juba, Lower Shebelle, Middle Shebelle and Hiran regions. The Juba River and Shabelle River pass through these provinces, rendering the soil more conducive to crop cultivation than the comparatively arid north, where pastoralism has instead traditionally been practiced.
Principal crop exports include bananas; sugar, sorghum and corn are products for the domestic market. According to the Central Bank of Somalia, imports of goods total about $460 million per year, and have recovered and even surpassed aggregate imports prior to the start of the civil war in 1991. Exports, which total about $270 million annually, have also surpassed pre-war aggregate export levels but still lead to a trade account deficit of about $190 million US dollars per year. However, this trade deficit is far exceeded by remittances sent by Somalis in the diaspora, which have helped sustain the import level.
In mid-2010, Somalia's business community also pledged to invest $1 billion in the national economy industries over the following five years. Abdullahi Hussein, the director of the just-formed Trans-National Industrial Electricity and Gas Company, predicted that the investment strategy would create 100,000 jobs. The new firm was established through the merger of five Somali companies from the trade, finance, security and telecommunications sectors. The second phase of the project, which began in mid-to-late 2011, saw the construction of factories in specially designated economic zones for the farming, livestock, fishing and mining industries.
Somalia has the longest coastline on the mainland. Prior to the start of the civil war in 1991, the country had a number of fishing hubs. Tuna, lobster, and other high value marine stock were harvested locally for the domestic and international seafood markets. The government has since endeavoured to work with local communities to rebuild the fisheries industry and normalize trade. To this end, fishing fleets from Europe and Asia have reached commercial fishing agreements in the northern Puntland region.
In 2012, a team of engineers was also enlisted by the Puntland authorities to assess the ongoing renovations taking place at the Las Khorey port. According to the Minister of Ports, Saeed Mohamed Ragge, the Puntland government intends to launch more such development projects in the town.
In April 2013, the Puntland Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources officially inaugurated a new fish market in Garowe. Constructed in conjunction with the UK authorities and the UNDP, it is part of a larger regional development plan which will see two other similar marketplaces launched within the year in Galkayo and Qardho.
In September 2013, Puntland Minister of Fisheries Mohamed Farah Adan also announced that the Puntland government plans to open two new marine training schools in Eyl and Bandar Siyada (Qaw), another northeastern coastal town. The institutes are intended to buttress the regional fisheries industry and enhance the skill set of the Ministry's personnel and local fishermen. Adan also indicated that the Ministry in conjunction with the FAO would open a new fish market in Bosaso, complete with modern refrigators.
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