Camel milk from Gujarat’s Kutch region is all set to hit the retail shelves of major metros and cities across the country as Sarhad Dairy has started selling milk under ultra-high temperature-treated (UHT) packaging besides offering camel milk powder eyeing a larger consumer base.

Enriched with nutrients

Considered as a rich source of natural insulin-like protein that helps in managing Type-1 Diabetes, besides nutrients including iron and Vitamin C, camel milk is currently sold in Gujarat under the Amul brand. But looking at the growing traction from the urban consumers, Kutch District Cooperative Milk Producers’ Union Ltd (Sarhad Dairy) — a member dairy of Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd (GCMMF) —is now getting into bigger markets with its 1-litre UHT packs as well as 25-gram powder sachets.

“We have increased our procurement geographies and getting more camel milk now. UHT packaging can keep camel milk good for six months, and the powder pouches can be used anywhere. So with such facilities, we are able to sell whatever milk we get,” Sarhad Dairy’s Chairman, Valamji Humbal, told BusinessLine .

Camel milk with 7 per cent milk solids not fat (SNF) costs ₹100 per litre for the pasteurised variant and ₹125 litre for the UHT pack. It is considered suitable for lactose intolerant consumers, who can’t take regular animal milk. Sarhad Dairy’s daily camel milk sales has increased to about 1,600 litres per day, which is much higher than about 400-500 litres per day during the Covid-19 lockdown.

“We have added more collection centres because there was more demand coming up. Now, we have camel milk collection centers in four talukas - Nakhatrana, Rapar, Mandvi and Bhuj in Kutch district,” said Humbal, adding that raw milk is processed at Sarhad Dairy’s facilities, while milk powder and camel milk chocolates are made at the facilities of GCMMF.

Procurement price

About 200 camel herders are associated with dairy business - earning a daily average of ₹200 per animal. The procurement price is fixed at ₹51 a litre with each animal giving up to 5 litres of milk every day. “A big economic and social transformation has happened in past five years for the camel herder communities, which are mainly Rabaris and Jatts. The young generation which had moved away from animal husbandry to labour work has now returned to milk business as camel has provided a sustainable and dependable livelihood to them,” said Ramesh Bhatti, Programme Director at Sahajivan Organisation working at the grassroot level for nomadic pastoralists.

Bhatti added that the cooperative dairy model ended exploitation for these communities and set an example for neighbouring Rajasthan - which has a large population of camel.