(ERGO) – Abdi Adan Hubay, once a nomadic pastoralist camel herder in the rural areas of central Somalia, has changed his traditional lifestyle for a more profitable way of raising camels in town.
After 40 of his camels died in the drought in 2017, he experimented by moving three camels to Bahdo town, in Galgadud region, to raise them on grain and other fodder in a camel camp. They did well, so he moved his entire herd of 150 camels to town, pioneering a method that has now become popular.
“I started this method at a time of drought when the camels did not have a single tree to graze on. It was new to me too and I didn’t have much knowledge, but eventually we succeeded with the trial,” he said.
Abdi now owns 500 camels, fed on wheat, sorghum, maize and porridge instead of being taken to out to graze, in the camel camp system known as barqamaal.
He supplies small scale milk sellers in Bahdo and nearby villages from the 300 litres of milk he gets a day from his 50 milking camels.
“When the camels were in the rural areas, I used to get only two litres of milk from one of them. The calves used to die because of the lack of milk from their mothers,” he said.
He makes between $1-1,200 a month after paying his five camel keepers and the animal fodder. He also buys camels from rural herder to fatten in the camp, selling them after a few months in Galgadud camel market at a profit of around 10 per cent. Life for his family of seven has improved, his children are enrolled in school, and he has even started saving.
With camels in town, milk is more affordable and the price per litre has halved to around one dollar.
Many women like Barni Ali Abdi are running good businesses selling the milk. Barni moved to Bahdo after losing 290 goats in the 2017 drought.
“I sell up to 100 litres of milk a day making a profit of $10. I also keep one litre that we drink ourselves.
The business is profitable,” she said. She has cleared her $800 debts and saves $4 from each night’s milk sales to support her family of seven.
The evident profitability of the camel camps encouraged businessman Mohamed Adan to invest in buying 1,000 camels in 2019. He clears $3,000 a month profit from his 200 milking camels, after paying the $200 wages to the keepers taking care of the camels.
“This new method has revolutionised camel keeping,” he declared.
However, not everyone is in favour of the urban camel camps that have changed a centuries old tradition.
Duran Abdi Shire herds 80 camels in the rural area of Gidhays in Galgadud. He believes camels must go out to graze to survive. He vows to continue the traditional Somali nomadic ways.
“I don’t think I will move with my camels to the town. I believe the camels can’t survive on soil that is different from that in the rural areas,” he reasoned.
Duran said he gets just enough milk to feed his family and the young calves and sells a camel whenever a bigger need arises.
Raising camels in town has become popular in Bahdo, with 15 camel camps now established.
According to the Adado administration, this practice has created employment for more than 60 youth.