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Livelihood and Economy

He is saving camels and deserts

ISP Jaipur Bureau 

Sumer Singh Bhati would seem to be a common farmer at first look but he is no less than a trained conservator. He is striving to save camels by finding ways to make rearing of the animal economically viable. He believes that saving camels and deserts go hand in hand. Camels need to be reared by sustaining them on the natural and bio-diverse vegetation and both camels and deserts have to be saved to retain the landscape and the ecosystem of Rajasthan.  

Sumer owns around 500 camels and he along with his team of herders wakes up every morning to milk camels, pack them and send the natural and organic milk to distant places like Jaipur and Mumbai. He also runs the Shri Degrai camel Conservation and Milk Marketing Development Committee for the conservation of camels. They work to save the camels and their habitat. 

For the last five years, Bhati and his team have tried their best to explore the model of exploring newer avenues for camel products. With camels rarely being used for farming and transportation, which was their chief utility through the ages, now camel numbers are shrinking in Rajasthan, the state with the Thar Desert which houses camels in India. 

Rajasthan declared the camel as its state animal in 2014 and also launched an incentive scheme to reward farmers who rear camels. The scheme has now been stopped because the central government stopped funding it. The state animal husbandry department has recently revealed that the number of camels in Rajasthan has reduced drastically. It has come down from 4 lakh to 2.5 lakh in just the last half-a-decade. Jaisalmer has the largest population of camels in India. 

Bhati and his team have an active social media presence and most of their customers are connected through different online channels. They also share information like the camel being beneficial to diabetic patients. They publicise the medicinal fact that the antioxidants in camel milk can help children with an autism spectrum disorder. The awareness drives have won them a good amount of customers and they are supplying milk to them in distant places with special packaging derived from their age-old community knowledge. 

To make his campaign to popularise camel products more effective, Sumer Singh Bhati underwent training to learn how to make chocolates and ice cream out of camel milk. The processing of the milk for making user demand-driven products has also started in a big way at Bhati’s home in Sanwata village in Jaisalmer.

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