In East Africa, farmers have found a new way to make money in the arid and semi-arid areas.
These farmers own 60% of the world’s camels and they have taken advantage of the camel’s nutritious milk to make money. Camel milk is great for its medicinal value and low-fat content.
The northern drylands of Kenya should have been without attention, if not for the camels. The bustling streets in the capital city, Nairobi enjoy the thousands of liters of camel milk. The ‘white gold’ as the camel milk is fondly referred to because of the money it helps the rural women make.
Every day, cups of camel tea and glasses of camel milk are consumed in different parts of the country. The economic, health and life-giving potency of the camel milk gave it the name ‘white gold.’
Camel milk is believed to be medicinal and can cure some diseases. Many people who have never taken cow’s milk believe that the milk from camels is very pure. The protein-rich milk from camels, with its thick consistency and salty-sweet flavour, has become part of the nomadic diets over the years.
Muslim quarters like the Eastleigh in Nairobi, enjoy the milk that came milk from around Kenya and sold to them. On the supermarket shelves, camel milk and yogurt are seen in different packages. While the market is growing, more work is required to make the milk more acceptable in other African countries.
The increase in demand for camel milk is because of its health properties, great taste in tea, and long-shelf-life. These properties rival that seen in cow’s milk. For communities that do not traditionally drink camel milk in Kenya, the demand is increasing because of the marketing and news of the milk’s potency and efficacy.
High-end consumers are demanding milk because of its health benefits. The demand for the milk estimated to be over $50 million per year shows that the milk is indeed white gold.
The export market of the milk is not tapped effectively in both Somali and Kenya. But, in the Middle East, the demand for milk could be huge if harnessed properly. The drought-stricken central region in Kenya, called Isiolo has experienced economic growth because of its camels.
However, the climatic changes have reduced the productivity of these camels, but ended up producing herds of desert-hardened, drought-resistant camels that can produce 20 liters of milk a day.
Women are at the forefront of ensuring that the camel milk gets around the country. In some places, the camel belongs to the men, while the women handle the white gold business. The government has stepped in to stop these women with electricity and storage facilities to ensure that they have no wastage. Many single mothers have found solace in the camel milk business, and have used the proceeds to take care of their kids.
One day, the milk would be consumed in different parts of Africa, and those who own camels would end up rich overnight.