Pakistan

How to do Camel Farming in Pakistan

Camel Farm is a project of the livestock. The project is proposed to be set up in range lands of Balochistan, coastal areas and desert area of Cholistan, Thal and Tharparker. In these regions, camel is a source of milk and meat, transport facility provider and a racing/dancing animal, thus, playing an important role in the socioeconomic uplift of the local community. A herd of 40 camel breeders would be purchased and raised in conventional farming system. The breeder herd is assumed to give birth to 27 camel calves every two years. The female calves would be retained for milk and breeding purpose, while the male camels would be raised on the farm for 2 years and then sold into the local market. The milk from the camel cow would be sold directly to consumers or processing companies.

Cholistan desert has long been famous for raising different breeds of livestock and supply excellent quality of their products, which contribute a significant share to national meat, milk and wool output. The people residing in remote desert areas and nomads consume fresh raw or soured camel milk (a sort of yogurt). The nutrient contents of the camel milk are as good as or even better than that of the cow milk. Of great relevance for human nutrition in desert arid areas is its high vitamin C content ranging between 29 and 36 mg/liter milk, which amounts to three times the level of cow’s milk and one and a half times as much as in human milk. Almost around all major cities in Pakistan mobile camel dairies are found. The nomad camel keeping families keep on moving from one suburb locality of the city to another and sell camel milk there. The reported milk yield ranges between 900 and 4000 liters in a lactation period of 250 to more than 500 days. The average daily yield under different management systems is reported to vary from 3 to 8 liters. The females are milked twice to four times a day in Pakistan. According to a very modest estimate, the camel milk annually produced in this country is 0.24 million tons valued at Rs. 2.4 billion.

The total initial cost for setting up the quail unit is estimated at Rs. 8.417 million. The project is proposed to be financed through 50% debt and 50% equity. The project NPV is projected around Rs. 15.949 million, with an IRR of 38% and a payback period of 4.27 years. The legal business status of this project is proposed as ‘Sole Proprietorship’.

In this pre-feasibility study, all the calculations have been based on a breeder herd size of 40 camels, (2 males and 38 females). 70% of the females in the parent herd are assumed to be pregnant and would give birth to 27 camel calves every 2 years. The male camel calves are sold after being raised for two years. The female calves would be added to the breeding herd and would reproduce after 5 years and add to the milk production. Camel cows would be producing approximately 4500 liters of milk for a year.

Livestock products not only provide high-value protein but are also important sources of a wide range of essential micro-nutrients, in particular minerals such as iron and zinc, and vitamins such as vitamin A. For the large majority of people in the world, particularly in developing countries, livestock products remain a desired food for nutritional value and taste. The existing daily availability of protein quantity per capita in Pakistan deriving from animal source including beef, mutton, poultry and fish combined amounts to 11 grams. This is far less than the recommended daily dietary protein allowance from animal source of 26 grams according to the World Health Organization standards.

The indigenous dromedary camel (Camelus dromedarius) has continued to be the sole source of food, transport, and income for hundreds of thousands of nomads, its potential for increasing food supplies and family income has almost been ignored by planners of development projects and researchers. There is sufficient evidence to indicate that the dromedary camel possesses practical and unique attributes for meat and milk production under intensive and extensive management in the arid and semiarid regions of Pakistan. Due to prevailing droughts and the trend towards decreasing production of other animals, the camel has gained more attention as a way of bridging the gap between demand and supply. Decreasing camel population demands that we attend to the factors contributing towards its decline. Recent studies have shown that the camel is a prime candidate for meeting the milk requirements of pastoral people, and as well as other populations if managed, bred and fed properly.

Furthermore, in the context of change and global warming, under-exploited species like camel will find a better place to thrive and produce even under harsh climatic conditions. There are many virgin areas of research and development in this species, demanding that proper milk recording, selection and breeding practices are made to exploit its genetic potential to the maximum. Some planned and integrated efforts are needed in the camel-populated areas of Cholistan and Balochistan to undertake research and development on this species and allied matters. This is expected to bring revolutionary changes and further improvements in enhanced milk production and assist camel herders by improving their pastoral economy.

The camel farming is a project of livestock sector, in which, the camels would be raised for both milk and meat purpose. The camel breeder herd would be raised on the conventional farming system. The adult breeding herd would be procured from local animal market. The milk of the camel cow would be sold directly to consumers or processing companies. In addition, the farm would work for the production of camels for sacrificial purpose as well as meat purpose. A herd of 40 camels would be sufficient to start the farm, having 2 males and 38 female camels. 70% of the female camels would purchased are assumed to be pregnant and would give birth after 6 months. Through out the project life 70% of the female camels in the parent herd are assumed to give birth to 27 camel calves every two years. The lactation period of female camels lasts around a year. The male camels would be raised for 2 years and sold in different animal markets.

The specific requirement would be met by maintaining the herd in harsh environments, and would be provided proper feed and good animal husbandry practices which would be monitored by the concerned staff.

Legal Status 

The business legal status of the proposed project can either be sole proprietorship or partnership. Additionally, it can also be registered under the Companies Ordinance, 1984 with the Securities & Exchange Commission of Pakistan. The selection depends upon the choice of the Entrepreneur. This Pre-feasibility assumes the legal status to be Sole Proprietorship.

Capacity and Product Mix

In this pre-feasibility study, all the calculations have been based on a breeder herd size of 40 camels, (2 males and 38 female). 70% of the females in the parent herd are assumed to be pregnant and would give birth to 27 camel calves every 2 years. The male camel calves are sold after being raised for two years. The female calves would be added to the breeding herd and would reproduce after 5 years and add to the milk production. Camel cows would be producing approximately 4500 liters of milk for a year.

Critical Factors for Camel Farming in Pakistan

Before making a decision, whether to invest in this project or not, one should carefully analyze the associated risk factors. SWOT analysis can help in analyzing these factors which play an important role in decision making.

  • Camels are the preferred livestock species in extremely dry zones, enabling individuals to live in otherwise uninhabitable areas.
  • Strengthening livestock sector
  • Doctors often prescribe it to convalescing patients; it may be recommended for people living with AIDS, and for reducing diabetes and coronary heart disease
  • A source of earning for nomads living in Rangelands of Balochistan and desert areas of Cholistan, Thar and Thal.
  • Milk yield of Camel can go up to 20 liters per day.
  • Camel farming does not require extensive set up as it follows conventional farming system.
  • Camel milk typically fetches over a dollar a liter that would mean regular income for nomadic herders who currently have few other sources of revenue.
  • Marketing is one major issue of camel husbandry.
  • Due to lack of awareness, camel meat demand is lesser as compared to other meat types in local areas.
  • Interest from Pakistani consumers in camel meat is limited.
  • More intensive feeding of camels by traders or butchers within city boundaries may enhance the value of camels before slaughter. However, little information exists on changes in carcass composition during the feeding process.
  • A growing awareness that the camel can serve as a major food (milk and meat) producer in semi-arid and arid areas has helped change its image from ‘ship of the desert’ to ‘a food security animal’.
  • Camel meat and milk is daily kitchen item especially in Southern areas of Pakistan like Multan, Bahawalpur, Rahim Yar Khan etc. Developing opportunities to increase camel milk production by using concentrates, practicing early weaning and reducing calving intervals, as is done in Tunisia, could have positive economic benefits for herder pastoralists.
  • Racing and safaris is one more avenue for fortifying camel production. Camel fairs and safaris are attracting thousands of people from around the world in many countries.
  • Herders have lost access to traditional grazing grounds and tend to stay closer to urban centers and it might be possible to organize groups of camel owners for milk collection and link them up with dairy plants for activities such as milk collection, milk processing and cheese making.
  • There is no application of improved preservation and value addition methods for raw camel milk using appropriate technologies. By the development of camel milk and dairy product standards, the trade in this sub-sector development may be enhanced.
  • The milk can be pasteurized, chilled and packed for value addition. Many byproducts can be made from camel milk and plenty of markets are available around Cholistan.
  • Although, camel can be a good tool in the global environmental changing scenario and food insecurity situations, however, it is always neglected both at national and international levels. It attributes are never praised and no visible effort has been done for its development.
  • Camels are very much under threat and up to 25% of the camels have vanished in the last decade. Only last year thousands of camels were dead because of a new respiratory camel disease.
  • There is no proper documentation of the breeds and no support to enhance its use through closer collaboration between government, technical experts and other stakeholders. The economic potential of the camel remains limited in comparison to other livestock species.

Global Industry Structure of Camel Farming

Although most camel milk is traded informally, a world market worth USD 10 billion is within the realm of possibility if key improvements are made (FAO statistics). Camels were once used almost exclusively as a means of transport across harsh environments for both man and goods. However there is a growing recognition of the value and benefits of camels for their milk, meat and fibers. Camel dairy products could provide not only more food for people in arid and semi-arid areas but also give nomadic herders a rich source of income. The total number of camels globally is said to be 20 million, but as most camels are owned by nomads, this number can only be estimated. Half camel population is in horn of Africa.

Nomads move in search of pasture according to the season and can live for up to a month in the desert on nothing but camel milk. As camel milk is normally produced under low input-low output systems, five liters a day is considered a decent yield.

Available world production of camel milk is officially put at 1.3 million tonnes, a tiny figure as compared to cow’s milk. However, a recent FAO/CIRAD/KARKARA workshop estimated global camel milk output as 5.3 million tonnes, although even this may be a conservative estimate. Lactating camels each produce between 1,000 and 12,000 liters of milk for anywhere between 8 and 18 months. The world’s biggest camel milk producer is Somalia, with 850,000 tonnes a year, followed by Saudi Arabia with 89,000 tonnes.

The world population of camels is currently estimated at some 20 million. Somalia is believed to have the world’s largest herd, with almost as many camels as humans. World production of camel milk available/used for human consumption is officially put at 1.3 million tones – 500 times less than cow’s milk. The generally accepted figure for global camel milk production is 5.4 million tonnes, most of which goes to the calf. Lactating camel cows produce between 1,000 and 4,000 liters of milk for a period of anywhere between eight and 18 months. The world’s biggest camel milk producer is Somalia, followed by Saudi Arabia.

A camel dairy in the UAE and an Austrian chocolatier recently teamed up in a joint venture to produce chocolate made from camel milk, sweetened with honey from Yemen. Making cheese from camel milk can be difficult, but the Mauritanian Tiviski Dairy processes camel milk into modern, high-quality products. Camel cheese “Camelembert” is one of their special items. Camel ice cream was first promoted by the Israeli scientist Reuven Yagil, but the National Research Centre on Camels in Bikaner, India, now also produces a delicious camel milk-based kulfi, a local variation on ice-cream. Camel oil, produced in Australia, is lower in cholesterol than other animal cooking fats, and can be used to make soaps and cosmetics, even creams for sensitive baby skin. A line of cosmetics based on camel milk is also the dream project of Nancy Abdeirrahmane from the Tiviski Dairy. Camel meat is healthier as they produce carcasses with less fat as well as having less levels of cholesterol in fat than other meat animals.

Camel Farming in Pakistan

Livestock accounts for 52.2 percent of agricultural value added, contributes around 11.5 percent to GDP and affects the lives of 30 – 35 million people in rural areas. It is highly labor intensive and if proper attention is given to this sector, it will not only absorb more rural workforce but also help alleviate rural poverty in Pakistan.

Pakistan teems with dromedaries but a few herds of two-humped camels (Bactrians) are also bred in the extreme northern areas. The camel population is unevenly distributed over the country, mainly in four distinct ecologic zones of Pakistan:

  1. Sandy deserts (Thal and Cholistan in the Punjab and Thar in Sindh)
  2. Costal mangroves (Thatta, Badin and Karachi districts of Sindh)
  3. Mountainous tracts (all of Baluchistan, and the D.G. Khan and D.I. Khan districts of Punjab and KPK, respectively)
  4. Irrigated plains (all irrigated districts of Punjab and Sindh)

Pakistani and Afghanistani camels are supposed to produce the highest yields of milk, up to 30 liters per day. The Bactrian camel produces between 2.5-5 liters per day and the dromedary produces an average of 6-9 liters per day. Intensive breeding of cows has created animals that can produce 40 liters per day in ideal conditions. Camels, with their ability to go 21 days without drinking water, and produce milk even when feeding on low-quality fodder, are a sustainable option for food security in difficult environments.

The marketing of camel milk and meat follow the traditional channels of distribution. Generally, these are distributed in the market through middlemen (Arhti) and wholesalers. The role of Arhti is to identify a farm and negotiate the price.

Camel Farm Management in Pakistan

Farm input required for a shed includes farm equipment (milking buckets, feeding mangers etc), electronic fixtures and other items (feed, vaccines & medicines, clean drinking water, electricity etc.). This unit will work for the production of milk and calves for meat. The breeder camels will be purchased from private farm of good genetic worth. A herd of 40 camels (70% female, 30% male) will be bought initially. The following practices will be performed under the supervision of an expert by which farmers can protect the herd from 80% diseases and improve the farm management. Camel can eat everything (bark, dates seed, salty mud and even paper) when there is scarcity of feed, while in good feeding conditions, it does prefer protein rich diet. Camel can browse at 3.5 m above the ground even at the thorny plants without any harm. Camels can travel many days without feed or water. A traveler can continue journey without bothering too much about the feed and water.

The arid and semi arid lands (such as Cholistan, Thar and Thal area) is covered with wide range of nutritious and drought tolerant species of vegetation. Deep in desert the camel mostly rely on Khar, Lana, Jand and Kareer, while in the peripheries mostly kikar is available along the water courses and road side

Common Diseases of Camels in Pakistan

The disease register of camel is quite short (very few fatal diseases are reported in camel). Camel is resistant to many notorious diseases like foot and mouth disease, mad cow disease (BSE) and Brucellosis etc. There are some known camel diseases in Cholistan, only Trypanosomiasis (Surrah) is considered to cause economic losses. Surrah makes the animal weak and unable to produce or reproduce. The camel herders practice their traditional way of treatment which usually has minor effect. There are weak ties between the Veterinarians and local pastoral people. There is a big gap between the Veterinarians and the pastoral herders. Water scarcity is a tremendous issue of the pastoral people. During droughts period Tobas get dry and no water is available. Camel is resistant to ticks diseases. A load of more than 100 ticks on camel body cannot affect camel health and production. Furthermore, camels don’t usually colic like horses do, although they occasionally bloat.

Project Financials

The total project cost is estimated around Rs. 8.417 million.

The capital cost is estimated around Rs. 7.843 million and working capital of Rs. 0.574 million. The total cost, project returns and financial plans can be studied in details from the pre-feasibility study of camel farming in Pakistan by SMEDA.

Camels in Pakistan

There are two main types of camels found in the world. One humped camel generally called Dromedary (Camelus dromedarius) is found in the Arabian deserts, Iran, Afghanistan, Central and South Asia and the other is Bactrian (Camelus bactrianus) two-humped camel, which is found in central Asia, Russia and China. In Pakistan, the dromedary type of camels are found with a population of around 1.00 million while the number of Bactrian are said to be approximately 1000 animals only, which are available in extremely northern areas of the country or a few are kept in the zoos.

Traits of Camels

The camels are regarded as the most intelligent animals and can find out their way in the desert when there are no signs of road. It is a unique beast of burden, which is loaded in sitting position and gets up with a jerk of its long neck. Camels do not need to be shod. The flat pads of the feet are horny and cushioned and help the camel to walk on the sand without making any sound while the feet of other animals sink into the sand. Due to this trait, the camel has been given the name “ship of the desert”.

Camel is better as riding animal than horse. They are quieter and gentler than horses. Camels can carry more weight than horses. Also, a well-designed camel saddle has more room to carry whatever extra gear. The long muscular legs allow camels to cover great distances; they walk up to 40 km per day with 200 to 300 kg of baggage. Riding a camel is quiet and peaceful.

The ability of camel to allow its body temperature to fluctuate in response to certain forms of environmental stress saves significant amounts of energy and water. The well-developed hump is full of fat that serves as a store of water and food at the time of starvation. The fat of hump gets dissolved gradually during starvation and collects again when the camel gets adequate water and feed. Camel can eat anything when tired and hungry. Under very hot conditions, the camel may drink only every 8-10 days and loose up to 30% of the its live body weight through dehydration. Other animals die at 10% live body loss through dehydration. They can live without water for 3 days in summer and 7 days in winter. However, there are some examples of this animal remaining without water for 20 to 40 days. After 40 days the camel goes blind due to excessive dehydration.

The chest pad helps the animal to rest while sitting on the ground. The rest of the body is saved from concussion against the ground. There are other pads at the knee and half joint and in front of the joint of thighs. These prevent the limbs from concussion against the ground. The camel sleeps less and possesses great power of remembrance. It keeps in mind the harsh behavior, beating or even the abuses from the camel man and takes revenge at the appropriate time.

Camels are hornless and lack gall bladder. Their ears are small but have a great power of hearing. Camel can hear and understand the voice of its herder from a long distance. Camel has prominent eyes with a wide range of vision. They are protected by an overhanging upper lid with long eyelashes, which protect the eyeballs from powerful rays of the sun. The upper lip of the mouth has a cut in the middle. The flaps of the upper lip not only help in catching the twigs (thin shoots of the trees and bushes) but also enable the nostrils to cover to keep out the sand and dust at the time of sand / dust storms. Camel has a well-developed power to smell. They can smell water 50 miles away. Camels urinate less than 1 liter of urine per day in hot summer days.

Camels Breeds of Pakistan 

Camel is the only livestock specie which was originally domesticated for milk. In Pakistan camel population attained one million head with almost 20% of lactating camel producing around 0.6 million ton of milk annually. Milk and meat are the principal products of camel. The huge amount of milk is not well documented and never marketed. The Pakistani camel breeds are highly diversified and can produce up to 40 liters of milk per day in ordinary grazing conditions. Such high yielding specimens are found in Pakistan, especially in desert areas of the country.

  • Camel Breeds of Punjab: Bagri ( Booja ), Brela ( Thalocha ), Campbelpuri, Marecha
  • Camel Breeds of Baluchistan: Brahvi , Kachhi , Kharani , Lassi , Makrani , Pishin, Rodbari
  • Camel Breeds of Sindh: Dhatti , Kharai , Larri (Sindhi), Sakrai
  • Camel Breeds of KPK: Gaddi, Ghulmani, Khader, Maya

Camel Breeds of Cholistan (Punjab)

The Cholistani pastoralists keep two distinct camel breeds, Marrecha and Brela. The production systems and the characteristics of these breeds differ:

Marrecha Camel Breed

The Marrecha is known as dual type in Punjab. Marrecha camel is also known as Bekaneri camel in Rajasthan, India. This breed of camel is well adapted to the sandy desert and is best suited to work in desert ecosystems. These animals can travel 100 to 125 km a day at a high speed of 20-25 km per hour. Marrecha camels have good milk production ability in the desert ecology, thus herders also select this breed for more milk to sustain human life in the desert.

Marrecha Camel in Pakistan

The average herd size of the Mareecha camel is 37. Majority are female with 20-25 lactating camels. The color ranges from blackish brown to light brown and fawn; majority of the camels are fawn. Marrecha has long thin neck, long legs, long eye lashes, hair on the ears and neck with medium head and pointed muzzles. The rabbit like ears are the salient feature of this breed. The top priority of Mareecha herders is to produce drought camels for the transportation of their families in the desert. As Marrecha is highly demanded for its racing ability and beauty, the herders stress on its beauty.

This breed is mainly used for the transportation and riding in the desert. The males are trained for many events and riding in the desert. There is high demand for Mareecha camel by race hobbyist in local market and Middle East. Mareecha camel is liked by hobbyists and carters of the cities and produces milk in harsh conditions with high temperature and scarcity of feed and water. This characteristic of Mareecha camel enables its’ herders to live in deep deserts and use the camel milk as food security. They also provide good amount of milk to male calves for vigor and good health.

The male animals are sold at the age of 2-3 years at different times in a year. They are sold locally and in famous camel fairs. Channan Peer fair is one of the famous fair for male Marrecha animals. They fetch good price according to its beauty, attraction and taste of the buyer.

Brela Camel Breed

The Brela camel originates from the Thal desert of Pakistan. Thal desert is irrigated and brought under canal irrigation. The women in these areas usually sell milk as means of earning for themselves.

brela camel in Pakistan

Brela is good milk producer with sustainable lactation yield, hence a good source of earning in the form of milk for its herders especially women folk. It is a docile animal and would allow a stranger to milk it. It is also adaptive in any ecosystem and may be raised in areas for milk production where camels are normally not raised. The male Brela camel is mainly raised and sold for meat.

The average herd size of the Brela camel is 26, with the majority being females. The percentage of lactating camels in the herd ranges from 23-27%, but that depends upon the status of the year (dry or wet). The milking season of Brela is from October to March. It is higher milk producing animal producing 22 liters per day with a lactation length of 9 months and milked regularly, twice a day. The color of the animal ranges from blackish brown to light brown, majority being deep brown, sometimes white specimen are also found. Brela is one of the massive breed of the country with thick neck, wide chest, muscular legs and massive head. The hanging lip is one of the salient features of the breed.

Camel Milk in Pakistan

Camel milk is slightly saltier as compared to cow’s milk, three times as rich in Vitamin C and is known to be rich in iron, unsaturated fatty acids and B vitamins. It is a natural and essential food item in areas where there is a scarcity of water and forage. Camel is most efficient animal in milk production on per unit feed consumption basis. Research shows that a cow in Rangelands conditions needs 9.1 kg of dry matter feed to produce one liter of milk, while camel produce one litre of milk by consuming only 1.9 kg of dry matter feed under the same conditions.

The lengthy days without water do not depress the camel’s milk quantity or quality. The milk becomes even more watery during the period of water scarcity to fulfill the water requirements of thirsty suckling calves. Camel cow has four teats with at least two orifices in each teat. If one orifice is blocked the milk can come through the other orifice. Camel contains equal quantity of milk in four quarters unlike cows who have more milk in hindquarters. The colostrum are white and watery instead of thick and cream colored (cow colostrum).

Camel milk is a nervine tonic and is good for eyesight. It is a booster of the immune system, contains protective proteins, including the immunoglobulin necessary for maintaining the immune system and for brain development. It contains 25-30 times as much lactoferrin as cow milk. Lactoferrin is a fairly recently discovered iron containing protein that has been shown to have antiviral, anti fungal, anti inflammatory, analgesic and anti-carcinogenic effects.

Camel’s milk is a rich source of proteins with potential anti-microbial and protective activity. The fat globules are smaller in camel’s milk than in cow’s milk and that explains why camel’s milk is unstable at high temperature. Camel’s milk protein is coated with fats, which enhance protein absorption in intestines. Camel’s milk fat contains much higher concentration of long-chained fatty acids (C 14 – C 18) than short-chained fatty acids, and is therefore healthier. Sour camel’s milk is not a waste but is a part of the traditional diet in Somalia known as “susa” and in Arabia as “Algarss” and in Baloch pastoral areas as “Sorain”.

Camel Meat in Pakistan

Camel meat is relatively high in polyunsaturated fatty acid in comparison to beef. This is an important factor in reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Camel meat is also used for remedial purposes for diseases such as hyper acidity, hypertension, pneumonia and respiratory disease. Camel lean meat contains about 77% water, 19% protein, 2.8% fat, and 1.2% ash with a small amount of intramuscular fat, which renders it a healthy food for humans. Camel meat has raspberry red to dark brown color. The fat of the camel meat is white. Camel meat is processed and used in burgers, patties, sausages etc. Camels reach live weights of about 650 kg at 7–8 years of age, and produce carcass weights ranging from 125 to 400 kg with dressing-out percentage values from 55% to 70%. Camel carcasses contain about 57% muscle, 26% bone and 17% fat.

Camel Farming Guide in Urdu

Download SMEDA prepared camel farming in Pakistan Urdu Guide.

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