Rajasthan medicinal camel milk
Camels have never been bred as dairy animals – the yield is at most 3-4 litres per day – but there is now a niche market for camel milk and products such as chocolate, kulfi, ghee, cheese, skin creams and soaps made from it.
However, except for a few small dairies in major cities, there is no organised market for camel milk in Rajasthan. The state dairy federation does not sponsor camel milk like the Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF), which has a dedicated cooling plant for camel milk. Some 200 families in Kutch earn a living by selling the milk to the federation, which sells it under the Amul brand.
Today, a private company from Rajasthan, Aadvik Foods of Bikaner, has entered the market by setting up a cooling and pasteurisation plant. They are manufacturing camel milk powder and other products.
Another Urmul Trust company is expected to start its cooling plant in Pokharan soon. Says Rathore of the Lokhit Pashupalak Sansthan: “Our camel dairy, Charisma, sells 100 litres a day . The buyers are in Hyderabad and Karnataka, as we have to transport it frozen, packed in coolers. But the demand has not caught up yet.
Sometimes it has to stop supply when the capacity reaches its saturation point. In contrast, cooperatives in Gujarat have managed to increase the shelf life from five days to 180 days, which has opened up markets across India. Dairies there can process a few thousand litres a day and have managed to build a collection and distribution chain. They offer owners Rs 50 per litre, which has largely helped Gujarat to stem the decline in the camel population. If Rajasthan can emulate Gujarat’s success, sign up to the Saras state milk brand and do some branding and marketing of camel milk, it would go a long way in helping the owners stay invested in the animal.
Camel milk, says NRCC director Dr A. Sahoo, should be used as a medicine and not as a daily consumption product like any other milk. As it is low in fat, does not clog arteries and with higher insulin and immunoglobulins similar to humans, it is considered a better option for type 2 diabetics and patients with heart disease and autism. But the NRCC and the livestock department cannot do research on the therapeutic value unless the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) is involved. “To save the camel from extinction, we need to diversify its utility. The animal is not just the vessel of the desert, it is also a ‘medicine vessel’,” says the NRCC director.
Photo credits: Purushottam Diwakar