New camel milk products have been introduced in the market and could come into serious rivalry with other dairy products.
Nuug Camel Milk Products Limited has joined the ranks of firms packaging the milk products in large quantities. The company — situated along Enterprise Road in Industrial Area, Nairobi — is producing the products in several flavours including Vanilla, Strawberry and Mango.
The launch of the milk products was done when country marked the World Camel Day, which is celebrated on June 22.
In Kenya, the World Camel Day celebrations were held at Khulan Foods Company within the Central Business District (CBD) and attended by some lawmakers from northern Kenya, a university researcher Prof George Gitau, veterinarian Dr Kenneth Wameyo, Ewaso Nyiro North Development Authority director in Samburu County Robert Lemerketo and Kenya Camels Association (KCA) national co-ordinator Khalif A Abey.
KCA was started in 1997 but experienced teething problems after succession politics took centrestage.
“KCA had to go through revitalisation and rejuvenation,” Mr Abey stated.
Mr Abey disclosed that yearly turnover of camel milk sales under KCA has surpassed Sh10 billion per annum and is produced by 3.3 million camels being grazed in various parts of the country.
The figure of 3.3 million camels is the latest based on the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics.
“Milk alone earned Sh10 billion from the sale of 340-500 million litres, which is produced formally and informaly,” he said.
Only 15 percent of this milk reaches the market due to the hygene issue alone.
He said KCA established first milk factory in Nanyuki in 2008 after the government began to recognise the camel as a food animal as initially it had been classified as wildlife.
The factory was targeting the pastoral community in Isiolo, Marsabit, Samburu and Laikipia counties.
KCA later moved to Garissa and established another factory handling over 2,000 to 3,000 litres a day.
“In Garissa, the camel milk supports the livelihood of a vast majority with women handling the commodity,” Mr Abey stated.
Initially camels were associated with northern Kenya but other communities have begun to try their hand in herding this domestic animal known as the “desert animal.”
Mr Abey said camel milk and meat products are popular amongst the Somalis but other communities in town centres have started consuming the delicacy.
“Camel milk products are now being packaged like other dairy products in the market now,” Mr Abey told guests at the event marking the World Camel Day. The fete wasattended by Members of Parliament from northern Kenya at a city hotel.
He said presently 99.9 per cent of the camel milk is marketed by women in Garissa, Mandera, Wajir and parts of Laikipia, but Nuug Camel Milk Products Limited has started packaging both fresh and fermented products.
Mr Abey said the KCA will ensure proper standards in the camel milk and meat industry are maintained so that they will compete effectively.
The KCA is regulating the milk factories and will allow the women in business to have power and voice of fixing the products prices.
The KCA has reviewed the milk and meat standards.
“Nuug (a somali word which means to nurture) Camel Milk Products Ltd has begun to package yoghurt in three flavours , Mango, Strawberry and Vanilla,” Mr Abey revealed.
Dr Wameyo said researchers have embarked on establishing camel milk’s curative value in diseases like cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, anthritis and respiratory complications.
The Managing Director of Nuug Camel Milk Products Limited, Mr Bashir Warsame, said the company’s milk plant has started production.
Mr Warsame said Kenya has over 3.3 million camels and is ranked fifth in camel population world.
“Its milk and meat products will compete with others like Brookside, Kenya Co-operative Creameries and other leading companies.”
“The camel products are a space to watch as they will scale up the ladder of exports just like meat,coffee, pyrethrum and other agricultural products to become a foreign exchange earner,” he said.
He said plans are under way to package camel meat products, saying they have higher nutritional value than red and white meat since — as a desert animal it feeds on herbs.
He said currently the KCA has teamed up with institutions of higher learning to carry out indepth research on the products.
Mr Abey said the KCA is working hand in hand with the University of Nairobi and Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri) to develop a policy paper which will be passed on to Parliament to be enacted as law to regulate rearing, product processing and marketing.