*Sustainability in true sense means ‘considering the hidden costs like water & carbon footprint along with the other environmental factors.
In the far and wide drylands of the world, local/native genetic resources are playing a pivotal role in sustaining livelihood in the difficult environments since unknown time. To me, the camel is one of the best choices among the best genetic resources.
Originally domesticated for food production, especially milk, the camel was later used for other purposes and the milk became the secondary product.
Good news, that camel is again turning towards its original task, the milk. Camel is no more the animal of the old world, but an animal which may be used to combat the growing desertification and to feed millions of people living in those regions. It has been shown that camels can provide 15-20 liters of milk per day for a lactation period of up to 18 months, making it a very good farm animal.
Based on my personal experience of a camel farm for milk purpose, some camels can produce >12,000 kg milk per lactation (genetic potential) but the majority of population fall in >3,000 kg. The yield is sustainable in the true sense as camel consumes a lesser quantity of water/kg milk production. The same is true for the energy consumption as the camel doesn’t need weather comfort because of its special genes adapted to hostile weathers.
Africa, the Climate Change Hot Spot
Studies conducted in the horn of Africa revealed that the camel produced more milk than the other types of tropical animals compared on the basis of kg/TLU/year. A wide part of the African continent is well familiar with the camel milk, and consider it the fluid of choice in all conditions. Camel Milk and Challenges of Modern Time; The Concept of Natural Health
The Treasure is Uncovered in Another Hot Spot
South Asia, especially dryland (Western India and a major part of Pakistan) are the worst affected by the climate change calamities. The great Thar Desert being the habitat of the world’s best milk camel is an uncovered treasure of the region. Badly neglected and hidden from the consideration of the policymakers. A Beautiful Camel Heritage is Sinking
The Camel Milk in Pakistan~An Example
Pakistan is home to 0.9 million camels with a 20% of lactating camel (herd composition) Livestock production and population census in Pakistan: Determining their relationship with agricultural GDP using econometric analysis. About 0.18 million camels give milk for a lactation (average 2,200 kg/lactation), producing around 396,000 ton of milk annually but had never been considered a documented food item in the grey records of the country. Per head basis camel in the country produces far better than the indigenous cattle/buffalo breeds, Frisian, and their crosses (in true measurement model).
The time has reached to know and exploit the true potential of native genetic resources like camel and to find the ways to sustain livelihood (in the true sense) of the generations to come. I would appreciate a positive and healthy debate to be initiated regarding the food production in a truly sustainable model under the climate change scenario.