Sunday, May 04, 2008

Markets in everything: Dromedary Edition

Some things just go together, like roads and serfdom, like Mungowitz and Cheetos, and as KPC readers know, like India and camels!

And now, thanks to soaring oil prices, the bond between Indian and Dromedary is tighter than ever!

Camel demand soars in India

By Jo Johnson in New Delhi

Farmers in the Indian state of Rajasthan are rediscovering the humble camel.

As the cost of running gas-guzzling tractors soars, even-toed ungulates are making a comeback, raising hopes that a fall in the population of the desert state’s signature animal can be reversed.

“It’s excellent for the camel population if the price of oil continues to go up because demand for camels will also go up,” says Ilse Köhler-Rollefson of the League for Pastoral Peoples and Endogenous Livestock Development. “Two years ago, a camel cost little more than a goat, which is nothing. The price has since trebled.”

Market prices for these “ships of the desert”, which crashed with the growing affordability of motorised transport, are rising again as oil prices soar.

A sturdy male with a life expectancy of 60-80 years now fetches up to Rs40,000 ($973), compared to Rs5,000-Rs10,000 three years ago, according to Hanuwant Singh of the Lokhit Pashu-Palak Sansthan, a non-profit welfare organisation for livestock keepers. Entry-level tractors cost around $4,000.

“It’s very good news,” says Mr Singh, whose organisation aims to dispel the image of backwardness associated with camel ownership and tries to promote higher economic returns for breeders. “We had started to see camels, even female ones, being slaughtered for their meat. Now they are replacing the tractor again.”

Ah yes, Mr. Singh, that is very good news indeed.

"the league for pastoral peoples"? "even-toed ungulates"? "little more than a goat, which is nothing"?

People, India and Camels is comedy gold.

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