Nigeria: We Can Go On an Empty Stomach for Our Camels

19 February 2020

From one point to another camels carry heavy loads of goods regularly in Sokoto state.

In rural communities and areas with bad roads, the age -long mode of transportation has remained a veritable option.

For many who are into the camel transport business, it is very lucrative and worth the sacrifices.

"We can go on an empty stomach to feed the camel," Amadu Hassan of Gidan Kulodo village of Kware local government area said.

Amadu who has been in the camel transport business for over 20 years, grew up with the passion of owning the desert animal.

"It has been my major source of income, and I have lived with several camels in the past. The present one (Amali) cost N140,000, and I undergo several types of jobs with it during Ramadan, rainy and dry seasons," he added.

"I transport agricultural products such as beans straw, bundles of millet, guinea corn among others from the farms to designated destinations across my area.

"I charge between N1,000 and N2,000, depending on the amount of labour I exert on it. I make N20,000 within a week when it is harvest period. We get much work during the rainy season and harvest time," he disclosed.

"But after then, a camel owner hardly gets a N1,000 job to do, yet camels consume a lot."

According to Amadu, a camel could consume about N2,000 worth of feed daily if the owner is caring and wants the best of service from it.

"Look at this one, (pointing at his big and well-fed Amali), to make it look like this, I have to feed it well daily. Its feed comprises three bundles of dry beans stalk, at N200 each, three measures of Guinea/millet chaff at N300 each and three measures rice chaff (Kalanhudi) at N200 each."

On challenges of owning a camel for the transport business, Amadu said that sometimes he has to deny his family some comfort for him to feed the camel.

"When you have the feeling that we have for our camels, you can't help but put its interest before that of your family. We can go on an empty stomach to ensure the camel feeds.

"The other challenge is being with a very unpredictable animal. When living with a camel, one has to watch out for its temper and have a guiding stick. A camel can push down or bite the owner when being led or trample on you. The worst part of its violence is biting the owner, which can be impulsive."

But for Amadu, no regrets whatsoever in venturing into the camel transport business. Having been with them for over two decades, Amadu, who has two wives and six children, said he could handle any camel and is comfortable taking care of his needs with it.

Among his children are teenagers, old enough to cox the camel to some points in the farms where it also feeds on wild grasses. But the feeding pattern remains the same despite the ones it gets free, Amadu said.

Another camel owner in Sokoto, Malami Ali, said camel transport business is a means of sustainable livelihood for him

"I bought this camel for N110,000, and I have been doing a lot of work with it which is my source of income.

"Though I engage in dry and rainy season farming, it is the camel that sustains me and adequately takes care of my financial commitment.

"On a good day, I can make between N3,000 and N3,500, but sometimes whatever I get goes to the camel's feeding because it is an animal that requires good upkeep so that it can work for you."

He describes the business as rewarding but that it requires dedication and a lot of sacrifices.

The camel owner also spoke on the health aspect. "When it is ill, we get the local cure for it or take it to experts at the veterinary clinic."

Ibrahim Musa a farmer, who is new in the business, said he bought his camel only a year ago at N207,000.

"I transport people's harvest from the farm to their respective houses, and when it is time for farming, I use it to facilitate my farming activities. People also contract it to plough their lands when it rains.

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