Tahira Mohamed, Jameel Observatory and SPARC supported post-doctoral fellow at the International Livestock Research Institute recently gave a seminar on camel milk marketing at the University of Nairobi’s Institute of Development Studies. 

Drawing from her thesis research at the University of Sussex,  she elaborated on the roles of camels in pastoral areas, the drivers of camel milk production and marketing, and the complex networks of local relationships, contracts, and networks that underpin these activities.

As described in a related article, “ongoing evolutions of camel milk marketing in northern Kenya attest to the responsiveness and adaptive capacities of pastoral societies. … Not confined to particular areas and groups as in the past, camels are now central to livestock production across northern Kenya, and the marketing of their milk, once taboo, provides today an important response to the ecological and institutional transformations that are reconfiguring local drylands.”

These evolutions, she argued, are driven by a ‘moral economy’ centred around networks embedded within the local social, cultural, and political context and supporting the livelihoods of marginalized groups.

She concluded by recommending four ways forward:

  1. Take the moral economy lens seriously, going beyond market infrastructure to recognize the flexibility of agents involved in camel milk marketing, reinforcing mutual benefit, reliability, collective action and mobility.
  2. Provide infrastructure support so the products can be safely stored, cooled and transported from producers to markets.
  3. Allocate resources by national, county and international actors to improve camel and camel milk production.
  4. Invest in camel health, vaccination, disease control, milk handling etc.