Our directory of things of interest

University Directory

The goat economy

The goat economy Oli Scarff/Getty
15 Aug
2015
Since Saudi Arabia lifted an export ban on Somaliland’s livestock in 2009, the breakaway state has seen a boom in the trade of livestock, particularly goats

The autonomous region of Somaliland in north-western Somalia, is a long way from being an independent state. But while the country’s politicians wait for a seat at the United Nations, the region has become a modest economic superpower in one commodity – goats.

The country’s wealth is livestock, with 90 per cent of export earnings coming from cattle, sheep, and the all-important goat. Last year, Somaliland exported over three million goats, according to the Ministry of National Planning and Development. Almost as an afterthought it shipped around 250,000 cattle as well.

Demand in the Middle East, especially during the Hajj, stimulates production by ensuring a ready market for goats, according to Nadhem Mtimet, an agricultural economist at the International Livestock Research Institute. ‘On the supply side, the climatic conditions in Somalia leave producers with few possible alternative activities apart from livestock keeping,’ he says. There is a down side. ‘The negative implications could be in terms of the dependency of the Somaliland economy on livestock production and exports.’

Trade bans could also severely damage the Somaliland economy. During the 1990s and 2000s, Saudi Arabia refused to buy goats from Somaliland due to a Rift Valley Fever outbreak.

There’s also an environmental aspect to be mindful of. ‘Overgrazing leading to land [and] environmental degradation could also be considered another negative externality of sheep and goat production,’ adds Mtimet.

He also cites severe drought as another risk factor that can cause losses of livestock. ‘Climate change and overgrazing have negative impacts on the availability of feed, which in turn threatens sheep and goat survival.’

This article was published in the August 2015 edition of Geographical Magazine

Related items

Subscribe to Geographical!

geo line break v3

Free eBooks - Geographical Newsletter

Sign up for our weekly newsletter today and get a FREE eBook collection!

geo line break v3

University of Winchester

geo line break v3

EDUCATION PARTNERS

Aberystwyth University University of Greenwich The University of Derby

TRAVEL PARTNERS

Ponant

Silversea

Travel the Unknown

DOSSIERS

Like longer reads? Try our in-depth dossiers that provide a comprehensive view of each topic

  • Natural Capital: Putting a price on nature
    Natural capital is a way to quantify the value of the world that nature provides for us – the air, soils, water, even recreational activity. Advocat...
    The human game – tackling football’s ‘slave trade’
    Few would argue with football’s position as the world’s number one sport. But as Mark Rowe discovers, this global popularity is masking a sinister...
    Essential oil?
    Palm oil is omnipresent in global consumption. But in many circles it is considered the scourge of the natural world, for the deforestation and habita...
    London: a walk in the park
    In the 2016 London Mayoral election, the city’s natural environment was high on the agenda. Geographical asks: does the capital have a green future,...
    Alien views
    The tabloids would have us believe that immigrants are taking our houses, our jobs, our school places and our hospital beds. But a close reading of th...

MORE DOSSIERS

NEVER MISS A STORY - Follow Geographical on Social

Want to stay up to date with breaking Geographical stories? Join the thousands following us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and stay informed about the world.