By Eastern Newspaper Correspondent’
According to data from the Isiolo Agriculture department, there are 150,000 camels in Isiolo County and the population is highly increasing.
There are two known factories in the county dealing with camel products either exporting or selling directly to the customers on behalf of farmers within the county.
A single glass of camel milk sells at Sh150 but it is hard to get the milk in any Restaurant in the county.
Agriculture executive member Dr Lawrence Mwongela told The Eastern Newspaper that camel milk is deficient and is trying to retain the market as the most producer of the product in near future.
Mwongela said they have also initiated a program of providing farmers with coolers and promoting the camel value chain.
“We are passionate about camel milk and this will make great deference. We will be known countrywide for camel milk soon as Meru is known for the Dairy cow. We are also doing some beef and tomato value chain,” he said.
He said camels are never treated by anybody in their lifespan and don’t come into contact with medicine and they feed on different types of trees and shrubs so the milk is pure and natural.
“The Somali and Borana prefer it than others. Something that has not been researched and proven, one cannot comment on. The county has partners and will recommend research on camel milk. The meat is selling at a similar price and the only stake is sold. There is small meat cut and dried and then preserved called NyiriNyiri and is of high price and has a great delicacy taste,” Mwongela said.
Aden Muhammed, Coordinator of Anolei Women Camel Milk Cooperative that was started in 1991 with only five women when many refugees sought refuge in Kenya and many loved Camel milk.
He said the women followed examples and it became a routine.
“When we got a market and I brought them the idea of a self-help group, 18 women embraced and NGOs exposed and trained us on hygiene, business planning, marketing and as we proceeded we were taken to other milk factories including KCC,” Aden said.
We got interested because most started from scratch and in 2010 we formed a cooperative. The county has tried to chip in but we intend to buy our building because we pay over 100k rent.
He said they are seeking donors to buy and build their premises for processing final products.
“We have bought a piece of land, a car, a lorry a cooling tank, and a generator. All milk is cooled and taken to Nairobi. We produce more than 3500 litres but we don’t have enough coolants that’s why we use individual freezers,” he pleaded. He added that the current active members are currently 40.
Herders sell us a litre at Sh80 and we sell at Sh100. One camel produces between 5 to 15 liters per day. Aden claimed that Camel milk has had government researchers who found it is medicine for at least 12 diseases including diabetes and high blood pressure. Our products are meat, milk, fats, and skin.
He said at first they had challenges because their milk was only bought by pastoral communities but other communities have found a haven in camel meat and milk.
Aden noted that people especially youths have neglected herding and farming for lack of knowledge that the products are no longer domestic use but commercial too.
He said the demand is high this is why the price is high. At Meru University of Science and Technology, Dr. Arimi is leading a research program on camel milk and promoting the same for nutritional and economic benefits not only to the people of Meru county but also residents of other parts of the Eastern Region