Camels provide farmers in drylands with milk and income
This week’s story from Kenya features a livestock keeper who switched from cattle to camels because of the drought, and is now happy raising camels and selling camel milk. Our Script of the week also talks about drought, camels, and camel milk, and highlights some of the advantages of camels for farmers in arid and semi-arid environments.
During the extreme droughts of 2000, many of the cattle owned by a Maasai community in Kenya died. The community started to look more favourably on an animal that had survived the drought: the camel. Camels survive droughts by browsing on leaves other animals cannot eat. A lactating camel can go for 12 days without drinking water. Camels are also resistant to most diseases.
Camels can be milked up to four times a day, and produce milk for 12 months of the year. This constant source of milk can become a reliable and consistent source of income and nutritious food for the family and the community at a time when other foods may be in short supply. This can be especially important to communities, including pastoralist communities, who are faced with decreasing resources because of drought and the process of desertification.