Kenya has about 1.06 million camels. Camel milk production is estimated at over 340 million litres valued at over KES.8 billion at the farm level. Camels thrive in the harshest of agroecological zones and are generally able to withstand the frequent droughts, which decimate cattle, goats and sheep populations.

This unique adaptation makes it possible for camels to continue producing substantial quantities of milk, thus providing a suitable avenue through which increased livelihoods of communities living in these arid lands can be sustained. This potential has resulted in an increased shift to camel-keeping as a diversification strategy among pastoral communities who previously mainly kept cattle.

Implemetation Details

The quality of camel milk is comparable to cow milk in many respects. Fundamental differences however exist in butter fat, vitamin C, and protein content according to Yagil (1995). Camel milk does not separate easily and has a low butterfat content (3.7%) compared to that of the cow (5.7%). The milk is rich in vitamin C, ranging between 5.7-9.8 mg%, three times the level of cow’s milk.

This is a very important source of vitamins in ASAL regions where fruits and vegetables are not available in sufficient quantities. The protein lactoferrin in camel milk is about ten times that of cow milk. Protein lactoferrin and vitamin C in camel milk give the milk medicinal properties against viral and bacterial infection. There are many factors constraining the development of the camel milk and meat subsector.

These include low productivity (poor growth rates and high calf mortalities), poor breeding practices and poor nutrition; poor milk handling hygiene leading to high spoilage and poor organization of actors in the chain; poor business orientation of producers; inadequate physical and institutional support infrastructure; and poor market development.

KALRO through EU funding support developed technologies and recommendations to improve camel productivity in Kenya. The action hence focused on upscaling dissemination efforts of these technologies for the benefit of pastoralists and camel owner.