As far as loads were concerned all goods fell into one of seven categories: coffee, fruit & vegetables, fodder, grain & pulse, wood & charcoal, drinking water and miscellaneous.
Most of the coffee was for onward export by sea from Aden, being brought in from the Yemen. Monthly totals varied with the growing season and the harvest – from around 500 to 1,500 camel-loads. It had been expected that the introduction of a regular steamer plying between Hodeida and Aden introduced some time between 1875 and 1879 would have reduced the quantity of coffee being carried overland, but in fact appreciably more arrived in 1879 than four years previously. Whether this was due to a bumper harvest or an expanding demand is not known.
The demand for fodder was pretty constant – in 1875 around 5,500 loads a month, this dropping to around 4,500 by 1879, probably due to a decline in the equine population due to horse sickness. The monthly demand for wood & charcoal hardly varied, in 1879 averaging close to 5,700 loads a month. These were brought to the wood market in Crater, many postcards of which can be found, dating from around 1900. As can be imagined, due to the timing and success or otherwise of the harvest, amounts of grain and pulse varied quite considerably but with a monthly average of around 2,500 camel-loads.
‘Firewood sellers.’ A high-quality photo by Aden Photographer, Coutinho, taken around 1898.
‘Caravan at rest at Lahej’. From around 1905.
The irregular shapes left foreground might be fodder. Centre foreground is a trunk. One of the two regular-shaped sacks behind the trunk has initials on the sack and both appear to have what look like labels on the side of the sack.