Aytekin Kaya (KAYA BROTHERS CAMEL FARM)
One year ago you graciously hosted the CAMELMILK partners in Turkey. In this visit you showed your farms and the processes your country uses as one of the pioneers in camel milk production. What were the main objectives of the visit? What conclusions were drawn from it?
The aim of the visit was to meet with the project partners within the scope of the CAMELMILK Project, to discuss the developments in the project and to talk and discuss about what will be done within the scope of the project in the future. But for us, the main goal of the visit is different. It was to show that we do the camel breeding business that we have been doing for three generations not only as a hobby or with traditional methods, but with a real effort and to prove that we want to continue to do this professionally in accordance with the requirements of our age. I also think we are successful in this. We held very important meetings and drew the attention of academic circles, state institutions and the public.
As Kaya Brothers Camel Farm, the main result we got from the visit on our behalf is; it was the thought that we should do this job much more professionally by combining traditional methods with current-scientific methods. I know that we have this accumulation and I believe we will be successful.
In addition, it was an honor for us to host valuable guests from different countries of the world in our country and in our business. I thank all our guests again. I want them to know that our door is always open to them.
You have been 45 years working with and taking care of camels. Nowadays you export camel milk to different countries in the world. How can CAMELMILK generate an increase in the value of camel milk in the Mediterranean and exporting this product at an international level?
If we talk about my 45-year history of camel breeding: we are a family that has been doing this for three generations and has devoted itself to the camel culture. I remember with respect and mercy my family elders who instilled this great love for us. Before my late father and uncle, my late grandfather and our great uncle Çakır Hüseyin were engaged in camler breeding. In the last periods of the Ottoman Empire, after the establishment of Turkish Republic, they used to carry the goods with camels and organize camel caravans. They carried products such as wheat, straw and fabric to Aydın and its villages. In addition, they had been carrying cotton, figs, olives and olive oil, which are the most important agricultural products of Aydın, to İzmir Port, which was famous for its camel caravans at that time. These products were exported both to Istanbul and abroad by ships. Now, in addition to these products, the trade of camel milk and products, another valuable product, seems to develop. I think that the value of camel milk in the Mediterranean will be increased especially by processing it into fermented milk products and exporting it domestically and abroad.
It has been shown that camels produce 15 to 20 litres of milk each day during a lactating period of up to 18 months, making them great farm animals. What does the milk of this animal offer to compete with other more common productions like cow milk or goat milk?
This project will prove to the world that the camel is an animal that exists in the agricultural sector, such as a cow or a sheep, with its meat and milk. Because although the camel is a majestic animal known for its size, it is actually an animal that the world does not know much about. In addition, it will be understood that it has functional value not only in the agricultural-food sector, but also in a wide range of fields from medicine to cosmetics. In this respect, camel’s milk is actually just a starting point. Many products such as pasteurized milk, cheese, yoghurt, baby food, hand-body cream, and medical drugs will follow after milk is brought to the market under favorable conditions. In particular, camel milk and its products are primarily associated with diabetes, autism, cancer, etc. It is an important and natural alternative in the lives of people to protect from the Covid-19 pandemic, which is a plague in the world today. At this point, we can say the following: Camel and camel milk is the key to a huge door opening to giant sectors.
Some months ago in Incirliova new products were made with camel milk in collaboration with ADÜ within the CAMELMILK project. Do you think that the value of the camel as a species to help combat desertification, generate jobs and produce new products of great health value is beginning to be recognized throughout the world?
Yes, I think, the local and national press members showed so much interest in our publicity meeting that I was surprised as someone who has been hosting journalists in our farm for years. Nearly thirty press members watched the meeting. News agencies broadcasting nationally and internationally such as Anadolu Agency, Demirören News Agency and İhlas News Agency made special interviews. The broadcasts we made from the meeting on social media received serious interaction. After the news in newspapers and TVs, I got feedback from many different people and institutions.
Especially with the production of fermented camel milk products and their introduction to the market, the products will reach many points, but I think the value of camel and camel milk will increase more by using these products directly or as supportive of treatment in the treatment of many diseases mentioned above. I think that the work of scientists working in the field of health is very valuable. Thanks to the project, as the value of camel milk and its products are perceived by more people, the value of the camel will continue to increase, and it will spread to the people all over the world like a stone whose stagnant water is thrown.
What can be done to keep on advancing in this track?
I think much more research should be done on the benefits of camel milk and the results of the research should be announced to all segments of society in order to continue on this path. At this point, universities are of critical importance, the academic work of scientists must be supported. Because the more accurate information people have on this subject, the more they will contribute to the adoption of camel milk by demonstrating its true value, and the more preferred it will be to use products made of camel milk.