Thursday, October 07, 2004

Making camel's milk popular

With an aim to sustain the camel’s utility, scientists at the Bikaner-based National Research Centre on Camel (NRCC) have developed conventional milk products like curd, soft cheese and flavoured milk. These products have already received encouraging response in their field trials.

“With increased mechanisation, the draft utility of camels has decreased. So we are aiming at sustaining its utility by telling people that its milk can also be used for conventional purposes,” said MS Sahani, the director of NRCC. Research is on, he informed, to make ice-cream and kulfi out of camel milk.

The centre has begun training women in pockets where females camel population is largely available. “The only disadvantage of its milk is that it needs special handling,” said Sahani. To make curd, the milk needs to be boiled for about 20 minutes and then cooled to about 40 degrees centigrade after which jaman is added. However, it takes about double the time than normal to curdle.

“We have tested it according to the standards set by the International Dairy Federation and it is indeed curd. However, the consistency is thinner,” the director said. It, he added, has purgative properties and can help in constipation. He informed that camel milk, so far, was only used in certain households for drinking purposes. “The acceptability of these properties should help maintain the camel’s utility,” he said.

A female camel gives about four litres of milk daily and in its peak it delivers about seven litres. Meanwhile, increased mechanisation and lack of fodder has managed to decrease the camel population in the state by eight per cent each year. A 1996-97 survey had put the population of camels in Rajasthan at 6,69,443.

Sahani also highlighted many health benefits of camel milk over cattle milk. Trials on rats and humans have shown that camel milk is very useful because of its therapeutic properties in Diabetes (Type I), especially in children below the age of 10. Besides, it is useful in TB patients as a supplement to routine therapy. “Regular intake may also eradicate the need for routine therapy,” Sahani said. Camel milk is also richer in Vitamin C, “insulin-like” proteins, micro minerals such as copper, zinc and iron. It also contains lesser unsaturated fatty acids and is easily digestible.

One of my reports from Hindustan Times


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