Company plans for Gulf camel exports
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.
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.