Com­pany plans for Gulf camel ex­ports

The West Australian - - WEST BUSINESS - Joshua Chiat

A com­pany that has pro­vided em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties to Yar­nangu peo­ple in the re­mote Ngaany­at­jarra Lands by cul­ti­vat­ing feral camels for sale to a South Aus­tralian abat­toir is eye­ing a long-term ex­port chain into the Mid­dle East camel breed­ing and meat mar­ket.

Ngaany­at­jarra coun­cil’s Alex Knight and Pre­ston Thomas, Ngaany­at­jarra Camel Com­pany man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Troy Coe, camel re­searcher Rafat Al-Jas­sim and camel tourism op­er­a­tor Karen El­lis trav­elled to the United Arab Emi­rates and Qatar on a fed­er­ally funded trip last week to talk to camel in­dus­try rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

Mr Knight said the com­pany, which has sold more than 25,000 drom­e­dary camels — mostly to the SAMEX abat­toir in Peter­bor­ough — since it formed in 2012, wanted to open a reg­u­lar chan­nel to sup­ply the lu­cra­tive camel breed­ing in­dus­try in the Mid­dle East.

“Most of them have been at the very low end of the pro­tein chain,” he said. “We’ve sold a few hun­dred camels into camel breed­ing pro­grams, which is much more valu­able.”

He de­scribed pre­vi­ous sales to busi­nesses in the Mid­dle East as a “pi­lot”, with the meat and breed­ing ex­port mar­kets open for long-term de­vel­op­ment.

“At this stage the re­la­tion- ships are about im­prov­ing blood­lines, so animals for breed­ing, but our long view is that peo­ple would want camels for meat,” he said.

“Our pref­er­ence is that they get pro­cessed in Aus­tralia, be­cause that would be cheaper.”

Mr Knight said 80 peo­ple at­tended a work­shop for agri­cul­tural in­vestors and re­searchers in Dubai, where the com­pany fielded in­quiries from breed­ers.

The Ngaany­at­jarra Camel Com­pany has moved into a space that ex­poses the dif­fer­ent ways camels — in­tro­duced to WA in the late 1800s by Afghan and Arab mi­grants — are val­ued across the world. About 300,000 camels are es­ti­mated to live in the Ngaany­at­jarra Lands, at the in­ter­sec­tion of the North­ern Ter­ri­tory, WA and SA bor­ders.

Pic­ture: Hans Boessem

The Ngaany­at­jarra Coun­cil wants to build con­tacts in the Mid­dle East to ex­port camels for meat and breed­ing.

Pre­ston Thomas is in­ter­viewed on Emi­rates TV dur­ing the trip.

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