Untapped Secrets of Camel Farming
For centuries, nomadic lands have been known to be the least suitable for farming due to their climatic variability. Rainfall scarcity in these areas threatens reliance of crop farming and livestock rearing. This has therefore lead to a preference for camel rearing.
The animal known as the ‘desert ship’ is today considered a touristic animal and a homestead livestock. Its minimalistic maintenance needs and assured capabilities against environmental adversity makes camels the most ideal for pastoral communities.
Beyond the perception of camels being a symbol of wealth to the North Eastern communities, women from Laipokeiyet Self Help group in Kerio Valley – Elgeyo Marakwet, have beat these odds by rearing camels as an economic venture.
Their decision to venture into camel rearing was driven by the increase in camel milk and meat consumption in the country. They engaged in some basic research and committed their eighth-acre land investment to begin with 12 dromedary camels.
With available land to graze, the camels produced up to 168 liters of milk per day and approximately 108 liters a day during dry seasons. In their first month, Laipokeiyet women self-help group was able to make approximately Ksh 600,000 from milk sales only. With a liter of milk retailing at Ksh 120 per liter, these women wanted more.
“Currently our group consists of 15 women. We have invested back on lands and expanded the camel herd to 40. When one camel produces at least 14-16 liters a day and the markets are steady, we are able to make on average Ksh two million that month. We are happy.” Said Mrs Chereno Kitur.
A farmer can purchase a camel for approximately Ksh. 80,000 and expect almost 70% of capital returns and profits in the first three months.
Advantages of Camel Farming
- Promotes food security (provides milk and meat for consumption)
- It is a long term capital because of its long life of nearly 40 years
- Its value can be determined in any local or regional market economy
- Its feet are less aggressive to the soil compared to other herbivorous hooves
- Easy to manage its water and feeding needs
The market economy for camels has been explored extensively in developed countries going beyond milk production to products like yoghurt, cheese and skincare products.
Once policy makers and researchers realize the potential of camel milk and its products, it could rival other foreign exchange earners and boost livelihoods of herders. Some notable benefits of consuming camel milk include;
- Boosts immunity and fights disease causing organisms
- Aids brain conditions and autism spectrum disorder
- May lower blood sugar and insulin for persons with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes
- It is a better option for lactose intolerant individuals
- Helps exfoliate dead skin, moisturizes, softens and tones the skin