Milk matters:

Enhancing returns from pastoral milk

An estimated 40% of India’s domesticated breeds have been bred by and are managed in extensive, mobile pastoral systems. These systems are in decline for multiple reasons but a key factor is the reducing livelihood opportunities for pastoral communities. In the process, we stand to lose a major portion of our animal diversity.
  • A Rabari herder gathers milk from his camels in Kachchh © Nipun Prabhakar 
  • Bharwad herder milking a Kahami goat © Sahjeevan Archive
There is considerable potential for entrepreneurship linked to artisanal value-added products. The value-added dairy market in India is growing at over 20% annually, with significant urban interest in niche products such as cheeses. Some estimates suggest that the global market for camel milk and associated products could reach USD 10.07 billion by 2027 (Grand View Research), with camel cheese accounting for nearly a billion dollars. India however does not feature in these figures due to insufficient domestic demand.
In an age when consumers are increasingly willing to pay a premium for safe and free-range foods, the economic ceiling of pastoral milk production, despite its benefits, is virtually unlimited. For example, while India has the second-largest population of goats in the world, there have been no attempts to market goat milk or to produce goat cheeses that India imports in large quantities at premium prices. Similarly, pastoral camel milk offers several therapeutic benefits and is a healthy dairy alternative for a large section of the populace that is lactose intolerant.
In a bid to deepen the entrepreneurial ecosystem invested in pastoral dairy by-products, we work with enterprises that develop value-added milk products, primarily cheeses. CfP currently partners with Käse, a Chennai-based artisan cheese brand, to procure sheep and goat milk from Saurashtra, Gujarat, and to produce and market specialised pastoral cheeses. Käse has also trained two young Bharwad pastoralists in Sayla, Gujarat who now produce and sell artisanal pastoral cheeses through Panchal Dairy Private Limited, supported by CfP. We hope to create a vibrant pastoral economy where the main stakeholders are pastoralists themselves, rather than creating a long chain of intermediaries in the marketing of their products.

Rajasthan houses the highest number of goats in the country and has a notable (albeit declining) population of camels. Yet, there has been a lack of substantial investments in procuring and marketing the surplus camel and goat milk by both the government and the private sector. To address this problem, we have partnered with Urmul Seemant Samiti in Rajasthan to explore the development of camel and goat milk markets and enhance alternative livelihood opportunities for camel herders.
Desi Oon Initiative   ❯
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