Pastoral livelihoods

The camel population is fast dwindling and several initiatives have been undertaken to focus on the preservation of camels. Along with this there is increasing awareness of using Camel wool, milk and dung from a livelihood and sustainability point of view.

With limited use for camels as a utility animal, there was a decline in the number of people who bred camels for a living. Recently the state of Rajasthan announced the camel as its state animal and this has seen a revival to an extent.

Camel wool is a sought after product internationally and is used in textiles. Camel milk and its by-products are sold for its medicinal value. Intake of camel milk is believed to have great benefits for autistic children and camel milk is also used in the manufacture of soaps. Paper made from camel dung is made from living trees and shrubs that grow naturally in the desert and no tree has to be cut.

German veterinarian Ilse Köhler-Rollefson, a member of the NGO Lokhit Pashu-Palak Sansthan (LPPS), based in Sadri, Rajasthan, has done a lot of work in the area of converting camel dung to stationery. The LPPS works closely with the Raikas, a community of camel herders, to make paper made of the animal’s dung. The past 7 years has seen a steady erosion of skill and livelihoods for women. Unable to make a living through craft, women have turned away from skill based work. These women are desperately looking to break out of the circle of poverty. Widowed women are especially in desperate need as craft, which could be done at home barely generates any income and no one else is willing to give them a job.

Mon Ami Foundation works closely with LPPS as an ‘enabler’, using their expertise to make the project more marketable and commercially viable. We bring in our extensive network and strategic links to ensure the project is effective.

Description of the Project

A sustainability project that involves a liaison with the NGO Lokhit Pashu-Palak Sansthan (LPPS), based in Sadri, Rajasthan who work with the Raikas, a community of camel herders, to make paper made of the animal’s dung. Mon Ami plays the role of a facilitator or enabler bringing in strategic partners who help enhance the quality and increase the marketability of the paper. For instance, we have brought on board IIT Rourkee. Research students are currently working with on-ground field workers to explore utilising camel dung for other options such as paper mache. Mon Ami is also looking at improvising the processes for the soaps made with camel milk and the textile produced from the camel wool. We are currently trying to see how best to make the coarse camel wool to fine wool products so that we can produce durries as well as fine baby stoles and shawls.

Main Objective

To promote camel breeding as a means of livelihood while also encouraging environmental sustainability.
To build a marketing framework for the by-products such as camel wool, camel milk (soaps and packaged milk) and camel dung (to manufacture paper)

Way Forward:

Include more people from the Raika community to partner with LPPS
To continue our efforts to improve product quality and marketability through our strategic linkages
To find alternate uses of the camel wool, camel milk and camel dung and to extend the product line in future

Why You Should Fund: 

Funding is required in order to expand the market for the products that are produced from the camel dung, camel wool and camel milk. Our effort at Mon Ami Foundation is to create quality products that contribute to the sustainability of the region. Quality control and marketing efforts are expensive and this is where we need your support.