The people of the Ngaanyatjarra lands in central Australia are on the verge of opening up a market in China for wild camel meat.
The Ngaanyatjarra Camel Company is half-owned by the Ngaanyatjarra people and half owned by Central Livestock Management (CLM). Since 2012, they’ve mustered and sold 18,000 camels, land and culture manager Alex Knight told the ABC.
Importantly, they’ve now got local cattle farm owners onside who “just put them in a yard now” if they catch the feral animals wandering on their property, and a solid supply chain in a South Australia company.
But international expansion is now a genuine reality after Knight recently attended a June camel conference in Kazakhstan and found several camel importers who were trying to establish an import protocal for the meat from Australia.
The ABC reports Knight recently visited China to firm up the possibility.
The company has had to overcome several hurdles in its startup phase, namely, finding a buyer, and garnering some “hard earned knowledge” about camel behaviour.
And in 2013, it had to deal with the fallout from a $19 million federal government-funded feral camel management project, which reportedly left $135 million in potential export sales left for dead in the desert.
At the time, Ngaanyatjarra Camel Company said not-for-profit company Ninti One had been warned it had overstated camel numbers and that the cull had harmed the abbatoir industry.
Now things are looking good once again for the local employer.
“It’s a fairly good start for a business and we’ve run at a small profit,” Knight told the ABC.
“We’ve developed infrastructure, achieved Indigenous employment and managed our camels which were a big problem for us.”
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