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Title: Characteristics, feeding and marketing practices of the emerging peri-urban Camel production system in Isiolo County, Kenya
Authors: Noor, Issack Mohamed
Keywords: Camel production system
Issue Date: May-2013
Publisher: Egerton University
Abstract: Pastoral camel management strategies in northern Kenya, characterised by free herd mobility that enables efficient utilisation of rangeland resources, is slowly but progressively adopting restricted camel foraging within the vicinity of urban milk market outlets as seen in Isiolo town. The emerging peri-urban camel production system (PUCPS) has potential livelihood benefits to households but there are emerging pressures that can impede its sustained development and benefits. Key emerging pressures are on forage feed resources and market oriented milk production. This study explored options for improving feeding and marketing practices in PUCPS, guided by four research questions. The questions were: what are the key defining characteristics of PUCPS; what are its drivers for development; what are the challenges to its development; and what are the interventions to support its sustained development? Data were obtained from cross sectional surveys, focus group discussions, laboratory analyses of camel forages and supplementary feeding trials. Descriptive and inferential statistics comparing pastoral and peri-urban camel systems in Isiolo County indicated that camels remain the primary source of livelihoods even as pastoralists‟ transition to semi-sedentary urban lifestyle and milk is the key product. The drivers behind the emergence of PUCPS in Isiolo were: progressive sedentarization of pastoral communities with strong tradition for consumption of camel milk, a niche urban market for camel milk in Nairobi, and reliable (tarmac) road to urban markets. Compared to pastoral, peri-urban systems exhibited greater market orientation with large volumes of marketed milk, 2.4 times more sale of steer surplus stock (25.8 vs 62.8%) and purchase of 2.2 times more heifer breeding stock (12.3 vs 27.5%). The growth of Isiolo PUCPS has been rapid but is sensitive to disruption of peace and stability, market barriers due to poor milk hygiene practices and vulnerability to trypanosomosis and haemorrhagic septicaemia disease incidences that cause economic losses. Seasonal fluctuations in forage nutritive values were marked, being superior during wet season than in dry season (mean CP 15.70% vs 9.86%; mean CF 23.22% vs 32.57%; mean NDF 44.38% vs 53.15%). Consequently, wet season milk off-take declined by 33% during dry season and by 55% during severe drought which substantially reduced milk volume sold by 36% during dry season and by 60% during severe drought. Supplementary feeding with maize germ-based diet significantly (p<0.001) improved milk yield of lactating camels by 26% over acacia pods-based diet and by 50% over rangeland foraging and browsing. Major challenges to the continued development of Isiolo PUCPS are reported and the relevant interventions proposed. It is concluded that camel production in peri-urban areas near towns like Isiolo is gaining significance as an economic activity due to commercialization of camel milk
Appears in Collections:Faculty of Agriculture

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