Camel Milk Development Project in Somali Region, Ethiopia


Aged and Children Pastoralist Association (ACPA)
Annex 2: Success Story April 2015


No more milk spoilage due to direct sunlight contact and poor market conditions.

Barwako milk processing plant collecting milk from cooperatives at their
Barwako milk processing plant collecting milk from cooperatives at their

We sometimes used to take our milk to Gabo-Gabo; a nearby village which is about 2 hours distance on foot from our homes where milk used to lose flavor that nobody buys them and we used to return them in to our homes for domestic use due to prolonged direct sunlight contact. This is coupled with fear, pain in joints due to long distance walking and lack of internal household management when we are away from home which caused children to go out for play where they might get lost to jungle and be victims of wild life. Currently,  things changed as we were linked to a local milk processing factory called Barwako; the factory comes to our home and takes the milk with reasonable price per liter; on site payment system in cash and we do not longer face the above mentioned problems.


Ethiopia has one of the largest camel herds in the world estimated to be 2.5 million traditionally kept mostly by Somali and Afar communities. According to livestock value chain commissioned by Mercy Corps, there have been three major constraints facing the milk value chain in Somali region. These are; poor milk market development due to lack of linkage, milk quality problem which causes marketing problem and harm consumer health and very low milk production yield due to lack of fodder and limited availability of local breeds. Major causes of the above constraints according to the study are; producers are not organized except few informal women’s groups in east Hararghe zone, no milk producer groups exist, producers and traders are not linked to any milk processing factory, producers add water to the milk to increase milk quantity and add medicine such as Tetracycline to prolong preservation period, and recurrent droughts and scant rainfall which caused livestock to deteriorate and pasture to be over grazed, severely reducing milk yield.

In addition to this study, however the amount of milk produced by the local community was low, there have been other constraints apart from the above mentioned ones that those communities used to face; poor road infrastructure, transportation problems, lack of capacity building for producers, and limited income of milk marketing individuals.

Given the above constraints in the milk sector, Aged and Children Pastoralists Association (ACPA) initiated a new and innovative approach to address and minimize these problems in the milk sector specially the camel milk using a value chain concept. It is the first time in Ethiopia a camel milk sub sector is being addressed using a value chain concept. ACPA has prepared a proposal on camel milk development fall 2012 and submitted to USAID with an overall objective of increasing household incomes and nutrition. This project has three key results; increased camel productivity, improved milk hygiene and quality, and increased market access and linkages. This project is operational in two zones; Sitti and Fafan formerly known as Shinile and Jijiga respectively. Over 70% of the populations of these two zones depend on livestock based economy where women are the custodian and producers of livestock products mainly milk, meat, hides/skins and leather. The project is also focusing on women in order to empower them and over 80% of the beneficiaries are women. Major activities of this project include; organizing of producers in to groups called milk marketing cooperatives and provision of grant to these groups as startup capital, capacity building on milk hygiene and sanitation, camel husbandry and management, linking of milk marketing groups to milk processing firms.

A total of 19 cooperatives (milk marketing groups) were supported in the form of grant and trainings. Each group received 50% of the total allocated grant which is 30,000 ETB equivalents to USD 1,538.5 approximately; the remaining 50% of the grant will be dispersed for the groups based on their performance in the next quarter. The groups also contributed significant amount of cash by themselves; group contribution was different according to the size of the group and a total of 248,958.4 ETB equivalents to USD 12,767.1 approximately were contributed by the groups. The project also facilitated opening of bank book account in commercial bank of Ethiopia for the groups to deposit their money for promoting saving culture of the groups and also minimizing of the risk of damaging the money by other external parties. These milk marketing cooperatives started their business and they are operational for the last two quarters.

Barwako milk marketing cooperative is one of the cooperatives established and supported by ACPA under camel milk development project funded by USAID. Barwako consists of 70 members who are mainly women and it is operational in Golahajo kebele under Gursum woreda. Before the intervention; members of the cooperative were not organized with no or limited knowledge of business management skills. Before the project; members of the cooperative used to take their product (milk) individually to a nearby village called Gabogabo where they used to walk on foot for about 2 hours and the end result was not satisfactory as milk flavor was seriously damaged by the sunlight which in turn affected acceptability of the milk by consumers and which negatively affected their income.Flavor is one of the most important qualities that determine the acceptability of milk. Even though milk is highly nutritious, people will not drink it if they do not like it. Hence, milk should be produced under conditions that give good flavor initially, and also be handled to protect its flavor at every step from the camel/cow to the consumer and this is one of the key areas where ACPA focused in its intervention by building capacity of producers, linking them with local milk processing plants and giving them milk containers. According to Barwako, the cooperative’s income increased due to various reasons including; training on milk hygiene & sanitation and business skills given by ACPA, business diversification and linkage facilitated by ACPA where the cooperative was linked to a local milk processing plant called Barwako milk processing factory. This factory takes 400 Liters of milk each day from the cooperative for the last month.They sell one liter of milk 14 ETB(Ethiopian Birr) to the factory which is equivalent to USD 0.7. They used to sell one liter of milk after moving the long distance 8 ETB equivalent to USD 0.4 before the intervention.During dry season it is difficult to generate more income from milk due to milk shortage. Hence the cooperative started diversifying their income by purchasing 90 quintals of groundnut for 27,000 ETB (USD 1,316) and sold it later than one month 63,000 ETB (USD 3,071). From this data we can see that the cooperative gained a net profit of 33,600 ETB (USD 1,637.9) after deducting of 2,400 ETB (USD 116.9) running cost. In addition to this, the cooperative saved so far another 1,200 ETB (USD 58.5) from milk sales, which makes a total net profit of 34,800 ETB (USD 1,696.4) which is yet to be divided by the cooperative members equally. Profit generated from milk sales are far less than that of groundnuts due to the fact that in this period there has been extreme shortage of livestock feed and water which caused low milk yield of livestock.

This shows that the project is making difference with respect to its over goal of increased household income and nutrition.We also learned business diversification is important and contributes to also overall goal of the project.

This story is about the US president’s global hunger and food security initiative, feed the future. The story occurred in Golahajo, Gursum, Somali Region, Ethiopia. The component that the story relates is IR1 Improved Agricultural Productivity and sub-intermediate result 1.1 Enhanced Human and Institutional Capacity Development for Increased Sustainable Agriculture Sector Productivity of FTF Indicators.

Contact Information
Name of the person submitting: Mohamed Abdulahi
Organization: Aged and Children Pastoralist Association (ACPA)
Tell: +251-11 470 0462(office)
Mobile: +251939591741