16 May 2019

Kenya: From Camel to Cup

Wajir — As day breaks over the sandy stretch of Kenyan desert, Salah Abdinoor Issack finishes his dawn prayers and will now spend the hours until sunrise with his closest companions - his camels.

Issack, his grey beard tinged with orange henna, has herded and cared for camels since the age of seven and feels a deep kinship with the animals that have sustained his rural community in Hadado, northern Kenya.

"I can't fall asleep if I'm not with them," Issack told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

But the snorting beasts now have an additional benefit. They are being hailed for their ability to withstand climate-related droughts that are set to worsen in the Horn of Africa, where temperatures average above 30 degrees Celsius parts of the year.

Their milk has been dubbed "white gold" by food experts who say the creamy liquid could help conquer malnutrition, diabetes and other medical concerns, making it a tempting new superfood for health-conscious Western consumers.

With a growth in camel milk products available - from chocolate bars to baby milk formula and ice cream to "camelcino" coffees - there is a growing demand from consumers from North America to China, market experts say.

"If there is water scarcity, (camels) can go a month without water. Even when they are thirsty they can still produce milk - there is no downside to camels," said Issack who uses money from milk sales to support his family.

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