Somalia - Agriculture

The Somali economy is traditionally based principally on the herding camels, sheep, and goats, with cattle more prevalent in the southern region. Agriculture still provides for the subsistence needs of 75 percent of the population and furnishes a substantial export trade in live animals, skins, clarified butter, and canned meat. After independence in 1960, exports of these items rose dramatically and, until 1988, outstripped the other main export, bananas, which accounted for 40 percent of the total value of exports in that year. In 1982 exports of livestock products accounted for about 80 percent of Somalia's total export earnings. In 1989, livestock products accounted for 49 percent of the GDP. However, Somali agriculture is at the mercy of periodic droughts, the worst of which have led to high levels of famine and starvation.

Before 1972 fishing along the Somali coast was mainly a small-scale subsistence activity, but by 1980 it was coming to be recognized as one of the country's leading economic activities. During the 1974-75 drought, some 12,000 nomads were settled and encouraged to organize themselves into fishing co-operatives, which showed considerable promise. Although fish production

more than doubled, fish was still not a significant feature of the Somali diet.

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