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Illegal smuggling of cattle does not show signs of easing; more than 1.5 million cattle are smuggled annually to Kenya, Sudan, and Somalia where they can fetch higher prices, according to the Ethiopian Meat and Dairy Industry Development Institute (EMDIDI).
The borders of Djibouti, Kenya and Somaliland are the main borders through which oxen, goats, sheep and camels are smuggled, says the institute. The country loses an estimated 50 million USD every year due to such illegal trade.
Haileselassie Weres, Director General of EMDIDI, says the smuggling is detrimental to the meat and poultry industry and tighter measures should be taken.
“We need strong control of border areas. Millions of live cattle are transported illegally, thus bring no income for the country. Illegal trade hinders our aim of generating billions of dollars from the export of animal hides and meat,” he said.
However, not all blame can be put on pastoralists and traders, police and border guards have been said to have active involvement in illegal trade across borders. A live cattle merchant said more stringent control must be enforced at border crossing points, since some officers allow smugglers to cross the borders for bribes.
“Smugglers prefer the illegal trade as they can transact in dollars and can get higher prices in the black market, which lets them gain big money without paying any tax.”
A fairly fat ox is sold for 10,000 birr in the local market, but can fetch up to 13,000 birr when smuggled to other markets.
The CEO of Ethiopian Live Animal Traders Association, Mesret Adugnaw, called upon the regional trade bureaus to fully enforce the live animals trading proclamation, which was ratified two years ago.
“Implementing the proclamation helps to decrease smuggling. Trade bureaus should influence people to sell in formalized cattle markets. In addition, police and other law enforcement bodies must work harder to control illegal movement of cattle,” she said.
Ethiopia has over 100 million cattle; the goal is to earn USD 970 million in GTP II by exporting live animals and poultry.