Marketing of camel stock and milk
The study provides evidence of greater trading of camel stock and milk in peri-urban system than in pastoral system, reflecting a shift towards a market-oriented production objective. The Kenya Camel Association (KCA 2009) reported camel prices in Kenya ranged between Ksh. 17,000 and Ksh. 35,000 (equivalent to between US$246 and US$507). The price depended on a number of factors, including age, sex, body condition and market supply and demand forces (KCA 2009). In agreement with the present findings, Mahmoud (2010) reported a vibrant and lucrative camel stock market in the northern Kenya border town of Moyale. Farah et al. (2004a) have associated observed attractive prices and incentives with pastoral household participation in the market economy. Information on camel meat consumption was not collected in this study, but camel slaughter is on daily basis in the urban centres of Kenya, indicating an increase in camel trading, and most of the slaughter was steer surplus stock and unproductive females. Sale of camel stock enables pastoral households to meet livelihood needs and raise cash for other direct investments. Similar findings were reported by Mehari et al. (2007a) for camel pastoralists in the Somali region of Ethiopia. A possible explanation for the significantly higher (p < 0.05) mean prices (Tables 3 and 4) for both sales and purchases of camel stock in pastoral than in peri-urban system could be due to lack of adequate market information. Since pastoral producers were usually far from urban markets, coupled with the possible challenges associated with recall data, the prices quoted most probably reflect optimism.
Some authors (Chabari and Njiru 1991; Noor 1999) have reported a number of impediments to livestock marketing in the ASALs of northern Kenya including poor quality roads, lack of reliable market information, stock rustling and general insecurity, absence of consistent livestock marketing policies and hence dependency on private traders. Strengthening processes that add value to the products (LPP, LIFE Network, IUCN-WISP and FAO 2010) would be ideal interventions to enable camel producers in peri-urban systems to earn more from their stock. However, due to poor infrastructure in remote rangelands, conventional value addition processes (such as butter and cheese) are not feasible in most pastoral systems. Traditionally, camel milk is consumed either fresh or in the form of fermented milk, known as susa among the Somali pastoralists. It has been observed (Noor et al. 2012) that fermented camel milk is sometimes sold at almost half the price of fresh milk and therefore does not bring as much income as fresh milk. According to Farah et al. (2007), the manufacture of butter and cheese from camel milk is not a tradition in most of the pastoral societies in eastern Africa. These products were normally obtained from cow, goat and sheep milk.
The increase in commercialization of camel milk in urban niche markets observed in Kenya in the present study, was similar to trends reported in neighbouring countries like Somalia (Herren 1990; Farah et al. 2007) and Ethiopia (Seifu 2007; Mahmoud 2010) as well as in other African countries such as Djibouti, Mauritania, Morocco and Sudan (Abeiderrahmane 2013). In the PUCPS of Isiolo town, the sale of camel milk was found to be an important economic activity, attributable to the prospect of better returns arising from the increasing demand for camel milk in urban markets. The price of camel milk in Isiolo town of US$0.4 per litre was similar to the US$0.34 per litre reported by Baars (2000) for producers in neighbouring eastern Ethiopia. However, the price of milk seems not to be influenced by the distance between the production area and terminal market.
Milk hygiene and quality testing
This study provides evidence that hygiene and quality practices are unlikely to meet the safety and quality requirements for urban consumers. Subjective assessment of safety and quality based on colour and taste still predominate. These are inadequate for addressing hygiene issues previously observed in camel milking and milk handling. Several authors (Farah et al. 2004b; Matofari et al. 2007
2013) have identified poor hygiene of the commercialised milk. Most camel milk traders buy only fresh milk from producers since most camel milk consumers prefer fresh unfermented milk. In particular, a major segment of the consumers, comprising the Somali community, believe unprocessed camel milk has medicinal properties which would otherwise be lost through heating. However, Akweya et al. (2010b) observed that camels are usually milked in poor sanitary conditions, with all the predisposing factors to diseases such as mastitis that include dust, flies and scarce water resources. In particular, lack of clean water for milking, lack of understanding of the principles of clean milk production by camel keepers and lack of overnight milk cooling facilities present challenges. Other studies (Akweya et al. 2010b; Meile 2010; Wanjohi et al. 2010) have also demonstrated the presence of common milk pathogens, mostly Staphylococcus aureus, in camel milk. Farah et al. (2004b) also reported drinking untreated camel milk could cause gastric distress and more serious zoonotic diseases such as brucellosis, tuberculosis or typhoid. Consequently, there could be health risks associated with the consumption of raw camel milk, which could limit wider marketing opportunities, particularly amongst non-traditional camel keeping communities.