The Camel Partnership

The Camel Partnership is a full industry creation exercise that aims to mobilize the camel herding community, knowledge & potential in the Thar desert. We aspire to facilitate camel herders to take charge of their livelihood and drive an inclusive, accountable, collaborative and sustainable enterprise ecosystem.

This partnership with resource, technology and knowledge support from multiple stakeholders and strong market linkages is developing a resilient camel derivative ecosystem and value chain in western Rajasthan. This partnership is at work to support camel herders and enable camel based enterprises to take on the ecosystem management and development work through a comprehensive range of input services, achieving qualitative and quantifiable improvement in the camel systems in the region. We are fostering to develop a cadre of enterprising changemakers across the value chain.

PILLARS OF THE PARTNERSHIP

The Camel Partnership interventions spread across the three core verticals of community, enterprises and policies with a targeted reach of over 6,000 households affecting over 25,000 individuals in the identified camel milk clusters in western Rajasthan. The interventions would be spread over three key verticals

This domain exclusively focuses on mobilising efforts and resources of community members to revive this traditional avenue of livelihood. The intervention works across three levels- good nutrition, access to health and vaccination support and generating awareness to restore this livelihood avenue.

The focus lies on initiatives that encourage enterprises and institutions in these clusters to undertake joint actions. Standard operating procedures for quality control and requisite infrastructure support to establish a robust, streamlined and scalable milk value chain would be provided.

Through focused evidence based policy advocacy measures a vibrant policy ecosystem is being developed. This would ensure that all the stakeholders render necessary support and their actions are not carried out in silos. Policy advocacy dialogues with the stakeholders across levels are being undertaken.

CAMEL HERDING: THE LOST LIVELIHOOD

100%

Herders in Chimana reported that CPRs remain the primary source of forage for the camels but are poorly managed

89%

Respondents from Bajju did not get their camels yearly vaccinated

2%

Respondents from Pokaran rely on the services of a veterinarian for health support

99.5%

Respondents from Chimana self diagnose and vaccinate their animals

100%

Respondents from Bajju neither sell camel milk or other derived products in the market

88%

Respondents from Pokaran reported sickness to be the major cause of camel deaths

Animal husbandry is a traditional occupation and the backbone of the communities in ruralscape. In the Thar desert it is more pertinent as a scope and means of livelihoods, given the high variability and unpredictability of rains. Cow, goat and sheep are reared in abundance and provide for milk and wool. Camels are a unique feature of the Thar desert. It’s interdependence with community and living has meant a special care and utility for the animal. It has enjoyed a high popularity and demand amongst the herding communities of Rajasthan for its resilience to the climate of the region and the functions it has played. Over the years, however, there has been a significant decline in the population of this animal – camels are a crucial component of desert living and the overall ecology of the region.

Historically, camel has been used for transportation and heavy work – water lifting from well, seed sowing, mill grinding etc. All these applications have faded away in the recent years. There is a great survival challenge, the camel is facing in the absence of alternative functions that a camel could play in the living of the desert.

The relationship of this animal has changed from coexistence to liability amongst the herding community. Today a household cannot survive and sustain itself only by rearing camels. Additionally, the trade ban on camels, since they have been declared the state animal has further added to the herder’s plight. Traditional camel products like camel milk, camel leather and products made out of camel hair no longer have a local market or demand in the community thanks to globalization then availability of cheaper alternatives, fast fashion and no lack of value chains. The higher feed and health costs are due to shrinkage of CPRs, loss of traditional revenue stream, and poor reach of existing support services.

The analysis is based on a survey conducted with 1046 camel herding households in 96 villages of Bajju,
Chimana and Pokaran clusters between Nov 2019- June 2020.

MAP OF PROGRAMME AREAS

In the first phase of the partnership three clusters have been identified for systemic interventions around the three core functional verticals. The identified clusters are Pokaran, Bajju and Cheemana in Jaisalmer, Bikaner and Jodhpur districts of western Rajasthan.

THE PARTNERSHIP IN ACTION

Across the three focus verticals, the partnership plans to systematically engage with stakeholders, design scalable enterprise models, promote market creation and foster cadre of leadership and micro-entrepreneurs. Through focussed interventions and collaborations on knowledge technology infrastructure and resources, we will provide support to the camel herding community on access to health services, provision of water resources, forage support through plantation diversification in Common Property Resources and forest lands and building a robust sustainable value chain around camel based products.

  • Urmul Seemant with its three decades of experience is helping the Partnership in mobilizing community members and local institutions in the desert districts.

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  • Centre for Pastoralism has been spearheading the Partnership efforts by sharing their extensive domain expertise on pastoralist ecosystems and enhancing livelihoods of the pastoral communities.

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  • With the aim to improve the overall agroecology of arid regions, RRAN has been instrumental in garnering support for establishing camel milk-derived products value chain in western Rajasthan.

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  • Desert Resource Centre with its experience of working on the desert ecosystem is supporting the program team with technical inputs and knowledge support.

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  • Selco Foundation through sustainable energy solutions is supporting the Partnership with energy-efficient enterprise infrastructure.

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  • Urmul Seemant with its three decades of experience is helping the Partnership in mobilizing community members and local institutions in the desert districts.

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