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Alexander NyarkoYeboah – GITFIConline.com
Gitficonline—Apart from the spiritual blessings that come with the Hajj pilgrimage is the economic empowerment the Hajj brings to the many Somali cattle breeders and traders who live in mostly rural setting in Somalia.
This is because millions of their livestock are imported by Saudi Arabia to nourish the attending pilgrims bringing millions of dollars into the Somali economy and bettering the lives of these traders.
That notwithstanding, this year presents a gloomy picture for the cattle breeders due to the tremendous downsizing and imposed restrictions on the Hajj activities in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The cancellation of the Hajj has massive implications for the lives and livelihoods of the Somali people,” said Ahmed Khalif, Country Director for Somalia at the charity Action Against Hunger as quoted by the AFP.
According to Khalif,the fading of exports had led to oversupply in local markets where prices had dropped significantly with camels being sold for $500, which is half their usual price.
Khalifsaidlivestock trade accounted for about 60% of household income in Somaliahinting that, “This is a major blow to Somali pastoralist households in particular, who survive on livestock exports to Saudi Arabia. Up to three-quarters of Somalia’s export earnings come from livestock, making the sale of animals abroad a crucial lifeline for the Somali economy.”
This is great news for a relatively small number of wealthy consumers, but a disaster for the majority of local breeders who depend on sales to feed their families, pay off debts and cover basic costs of living.
“This year is so different from past years because the price of the goats has dramatically declined as Coronavirus has had a negative impact on us. Thanks to Allah, Saudi Arabia used to import more of the goats, and there were the local NGOs to feed the needy people. Now all those activities have stopped because of the virus,”Nur Hassan Abikar, a local livestock trader shared his frustrations,
The Hajj is compulsory for all Muslims, who are physically and financially able, to undertake at least once in their lives, and involves a pilgrimage to the Holy City of Makkah and its Great Mosque.
The Saudi authorities however limited the ceremony to those already in the country which means fewer than 10,000 domestic pilgrims are expected, compared to the two million visitors, mostly foreigners, who attended last year’s ceremony.
Saudi demand for cattle accounts for nearly two-thirds of Somalia’s annual livestock exports, according to the World Bank. The report indicated that more than five million sheep, goats, camels and livestock were shipped north from Somali ports to Saudi Arabia in 2015.