Got Camel Milk? Challenges and Opportunities in Somaliland
Camel milk is a critical product for both consumers and businesses in Somaliland. Traditionally used by pastoralist households for consumption or as a gift exchanged between friends or family, it’s played an important role in providing nutrition for arid-zone populations in several East African countries. More recently, the camel milk market in Somaliland has expanded as a business activity, due in part to a 2001 ban on livestock exports from Somalia. As an income-generating activity, camel milk sales in Somalia have been traced back to women looking to develop an adaptive strategy to generate income and provide a coping mechanism during times of shocks and stresses.
Evidence to date from the RTI International-implemented Feed the Future Somalia Camel Leasing to Impact Resilience Activity shows that dairy companies see great economic potential in the camel milk market and are actively seeking support from producers to expand their businesses. Demand for the product is increasing — with camel milk kiosks selling out of product on a near daily basis — thanks to its nutritional properties and the camel’s unique ability to produce milk during drought.
In order to better understand the structure of the camel milk market and the business case for private-sector dairy companies, RTI undertook a rapid value chain analysis in Woqooyi Galbeed, Somaliland, in March and April of 2021 as part of the Somalia Camel Leasing Activity. The activity, which runs from 2019 to 2022, seeks to assess the impacts of camel leasing on the resilience and resilience capacities of pastoralist households and communities and the dairy industry in Somalia. (See "What is Camel Leasing?" video.)
Our analysis found that, overall, the camel milk value chain is characterized by informal yet vibrant linkages between actors, from pastoralists to aggregators to vendors. Through 65 interviews with a variety of market actors, we identified several distinct challenges and opportunities throughout the value chain:
- There is unmet demand and potential for growth in the market.
- Food safety can be improved through quality standards, increased use of aluminum cans and more access to bulk cold storage, especially during aggregation and transport.
- The sector could benefit from increased access to finance at all levels, as well as mechanisms for value chain actors to mitigate their risks through insurance schemes.
- There are opportunities to build more trust between women who are operating in the markets and the male dairy owners who operate their own kiosks. Building the capacity of those women to better understand the market demand and to manage their supplies more effectively will increase their competitiveness in the value chain.