February 5, 2016

Camel meat now new gold mine in Kenya

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Many Isiolo residents depend on camels for their livelihood. Cattle keepers have started rearing the animal to supplement their income, especially during the dry season when cattle die because of drought.

The camel copes well in the arid and semi-arid conditions. Unlike the cow that needs constant supply of water, the camel drinks less water and is able to survive for days without quenching its thirst. Besides, the camel feeds on shrubs available in the region as opposed to cattle that feed on grass.

A camel produces more milk and of much higher quality than that from the indigenous cattle. Abdi Malaim, a camel farmer at Kachulu area in Isiolo North constituency, says life has been good since he turned to camel rearing in 1988.

To date, Malaim has 50 camels for milk production and meat. He says the camel is a blessing to communities living in the harsh climatic region. He says a camel milked at least 10 litres of milk daily which he sells at Sh60 a litre. Camel milk is believed to have medicinal value and is said to be a cure for stomach-related problems.

Plans are underway to transport more milk to Nairobi and other markets once a cooling plant being established in the area is complete. But for Malaim, the greatest profit is from the sale of meat, adding that Isiolo residents now prefer camel meat to beef. He says he slaughters a camel daily though the demand is higher.

According to Malaim, a camel slaughterhouse is larger than a cattle’s because of the size of the animal. With many of the camel farmers being Muslims, a farmer should avoid sending a signal to the animal that death is near when he wants to slaughter it. For this a camel for slaughter is well fed as usual and the slaughtering knife hidden until the animal arrives at the slaughterhouse.

He, however, says that some camels sense the danger and even start ‘crying’. At the slaughterhouse, the animal is made to lie flat on the floor in a roofless chamber before it is slaughtered. Malaim says with increasing camel meat consumption, Isiolo town butcheries now sell at least 10 camels daily.

He says business could improve once the construction of the Isiolo International Airport is complete. “Currently, camel meat is transported to Nairobi and other major towns by road but with the airport, we will be able to even export our meat and milk faster,” he says.

Ibrahim Muhamed, a butcher in Isiolo town, says both Christians and Muslims have embraced camel meat unlike in the past when Christians refused to buy the meat. He says customers start lining up at his butchery from as early as 9am immediately he arrives from the slaughterhouse.

In a day, he sells approximately 400 kilogrammes of meat at Sh360 a kilo. Ibrahim says camel meat business will boost most farmers earnings once its meat consumption is adopted in other areas. At the slaughterhouse some camel parts rejected by the butchery is manna to others.

The parts which include heads, legs are not consumed by the Borana community and are also not sold in butcheries. This has created job opportunity for business savvy traders who cook and sell the pieces in the streets of Isiolo town in the evening at low prices. The construction of an abattoir at Isiolo town is also a major boost in the meat industry.

The export slaughterhouse and feedlot were constructed by the Ministry of Livestock Development under the Economic Stimulus Programme in conjunction with African Development Bank.


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