USAID is partnering with Somalia groups to form the Camel Milk Value Chain Development project. This project is part of the U.S. President’s Feed the Future Initiative in Ethiopia. Feed the Future is a project started by the Obama Administration that focuses on helping countries become self-sustainable through agriculture reforms and improvements. The goal of the Camel Milk Development project is to improve the production of camel milk and to make it more marketable and competitive in Ethiopian communities.
The camel milk initiative is projected to benefit 50,000 “targeted households” in the country. Abdifatah Mohamud Hassan, Somali Regional State Vice President, said, “The Camel Milk Value Chain Development project is an innovative project that addresses cultural wealth of the pastoralists and contributes to the Ethiopia Agricultural Growth and Transformation Plan.”
Once the project is underway, local farmers will be educated on camel productivity, which includes breeding, better feed, and improvements to the camels’ health. The last aspect of this strategy to increase productivity will be a main focus as USAID trains more animal health care workers. Another goal of the organization is improved camel milk quality. This will happen through extensive trainings that teach workers about proper sanitation.
Finally, USAID hopes to create a better market for camel milk by connecting local milk markets with larger milk networks. This will generate a more stable market for farmers, negating some of the uncertainty and stress that goes along with the agriculture sector. Along with a stronger market, USAID will improve hygiene, food safety standards, and infrastructure.
Given Somalia’s unpredictable weather patterns that often include drought, camels could prove to be a vital source of nutrients for a majority of the country. The USAID Ethiopia Mission Director, Dennis Weller, has even called camels the “animal of the future.” As camel milk becomes more common, those living in Somalia will experience better food security as well as economic independence.
– Mary Penn
Photo: Mercy Corps