Camel milk value chain analysis in Kenya

Australia Awards Africa, 2016 Agribusiness Short Course Award participant Meshark Sikuku analysed the camel milk value chain in Garrisa, Kenya.

Meshark is the Programme Manager at Community Environment Adaption and Livelihoods Development (CEALID). He is a food security and livelihoods specialist, with over eight years experience working with NGOs and communities in arid pastoral regions of Kenya. 

Meshark said the course helped him to better evaluate food security and livelihoods programming at a local and national level. 

“The project has taught me to learn to talk to different actors; piece together information, and then create linkages between actors. Also, even within undeveloped chains like camel milk, it is important to understand the existing formal and informal arrangements along the chain,” he said. 

Garissa hosts refugee camps that are home to around 300,000 people, mostly from neighbouring Somalia.  The local community and refugees have similar cultures, being mainly Muslim pastoralists, and share similar tastes in food.  The region faces numerous problems: basic infrastructure is undeveloped with mostly earth roads which are vulnerable to rain, less than 1% of the population have electricity and only 23 per cent have access to safe water.

The main livelihood comes from cattle, goats, sheep and camels, whose products are either eaten, or traded as meat, milk and hides. Indeed, Garissa has over 230,000 camels, well suited to this arid land, and providing income to about 2 million people. An estimated 1.5 million camels are reared in Northern Kenyan. Women are generally responsible for selling camel milk, so it provides them with a valuable source of income towards household needs.

Meshark reviewed existing reports to provide background to his investigation, and then conducted two focus groups, split between men and women, each of 10 people. Next he interviewed vendors (3), transporters (2), producers (8), input suppliers (2) and an extension officer.

Meshark concluded, “There is a lot of potential in building effective camel milk value chains, because currently everyone is acting as an individual business. This results in a lot of wastage and failure to respond to consumers’ concerns, which (if addressed) would help expand the market and create value.”

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Last updated:
20 November 2020