Meat embargo lifted, Yemen criticized [Archives:2006/1009/Front Page]

December 21 2006

By: Yasser Al-Mayasi
DJIBOUTI, Dec. 19 ) Yemeni businessman Mohammed Qa'ed Abu Yasser has officially inaugurated the largest cattle quarantine in the entire Middle East area, and indeed the world, in Djibouti.

Abu Yasser, who resides in Saudi Arabia, revealed that Yemeni officials refuse to test cattle before importing them, particularly with the advent of Eid when large quantities of beef are consumed.

Following the inauguration of the cattle quarantine, Abu Yasser asserted that most beef enters Yemen illegally and expressed surprise that Yemeni authorities reject or hinder testing cattle imports.

He maintained that those who reject such testing aren't being cautious regarding Yemen's interest and are behaving irresponsibly, indicating that he can provide additional facilities and privileges, even testing cattle for free.

According to Abu Yasser, what's important is that cattle imports to Yemen should be safe and healthy. “Allowing cattle to enter Yemen without testing avails no one except cattle smugglers who operate illegally by sea,” he noted.

The cattle quarantine in Djibouti is considered one of the largest projects in the Horn of Africa and one of the most important for Abu Yasser's International Establishment. In its first phase, the project cost $20 million, with an estimated total cost of $75 million.

Phase one officially was inaugurated at the end of last month, with the first batch of cattle exported to Saudi Arabia on Sunday after the Saudi Cabinet was satisfied with the efforts of the Djibouti regional quarantine and thus, lifted the embargo on cattle imports from the Horn of Africa.

Saudi Arabia banned beef imports from the African Horn following the death of many consumers due to Rift Valley Fever.

The project aims to supply meat and cattle markets in the Gulf, Yemen, Jordan, Egypt, Malaysia and Indonesia with high-quality meat at competitive prices. It further aims to develop animal wealth in cattle-raising areas and further improve the livelihood of cattle farmers.

The project's first phase will contain approximately 10 million heads of cattle annually, which will increase in coming years as other project phases are implemented.

Those in charge of the project assure that it stands on solid ground and complies with international standards, having been granted a World Health Organization certificate assuring that its work does comply with such international specifications.