A litre of donkey milk goes for Kshs 250 ($2.5) in Kamare village, Naivasha County, Kenya.
For those of us who were accustomed to cow and goat milk will be left open-mouthed to learn how donkey milk is trending as source of food, income and health usage in Kenya.
Farmer John Nduhiu, 55 year-old retiree, does what any other farmer may never dream of doing especially in Kenya; rare activity of milking donkeys.
Before venturing in the business, John has been used to fetching water from Lake Naivasha using the beast of burden until later when he acquired the skills of donkey milking from the Turkana Community.
“I have seen the benefit of donkey milk that is why I am using it.
I have been taught by the Turkana community the benefits of the milk including treatment of tuberculosis, asthma and pressure”, says John speaking to Kenya’s Citizen TV.
Dr. Photis Papademas, a lecturer in dairy science at Cyprus University has been interviewing people who consume the donkey milk for over two months.
“From what they say, they had some remarkable results, especially children with asthma or coughs and for some with eczema and psoriasis”, articulate Dr. Photis
He adds that they are trying a clinical study on the adults since past practice of the milk favoured young children.
After milking the donkeys, the milk is poured in buckets ready for sale. Customers far and wide buy the sweet-tasting milk.
With only three donkeys at their disposal; mainly for source of livelihood, the business idea was nurtured in an investment seminar he and his wife, Alice Njeri, attended.
They now have 19 dairy donkeys courtesy of the thriving business.
“Many people come for the milk and they have benefited as well”, says Alice.
She adds that the taste of the milk is sweet and when you are preparing tea, sugar is not a requirement.
Donkey milk is used in the production of products such as donkey milk soap; good for sensitive skins, chocolate and cosmetics.
Other products are moisturizers, creams, shower gels, body lotions and cheese.
Biochemically, donkey’s milk is actually closer to human milk than cow’s milk with similar protein, mineral and fatty compositions, says nutrition consultant Charlotte Stirling-Reed
He adds that there is no enough research to conclude the health value of the milk compared to other common milk.
Another nutritional biologist, Dr. Massimo Caliendo believes that the most significant part of donkey milk is in paediatrics; reduces allergies present in cow’s milk and closely related to human milk.
In an interview with BBC world Service Health Check Programme, Dr. Giovanna Monti, a paediatrician at Turin’s Hospital, said that they use the donkey milk on children who are allergic to certain protein in cow’s milk.
Globally, farmers who run donkey farms will agree that the donkey milk is not a substitute of cow’s milk. Although, the milk is used as an alternative, it has been receiving widespread consumption lately.
A study published in Current Pharmaceutical Design Journal reveals that donkey milk is the best substitute for human milks or its content and helps in treating of human immune-related ailments.
Donkey milk consumption date back to 460BC when ancient Greeks used to feed their children with the milk and Romans used the milk as skin cosmetics.
In Islam, consuming the flesh of domestic donkey is prohibited and thus Muslims neither et the meat nor drink the milk.
With prices of donkeys being on the rise in the last few years, Kenya has doubled up donkey slaughterhouse.
Goldox donkey slaughterhouse in Baringo County is one of the Chinese-owned export abattoirs in the country.
Several African countries banned donkey slaughter due to increased poaching and reduce local farmer’s livelihood impact.
Apart from Latin American Countries, large quantity of the donkey milk is produced in Europe; France, Italy, Belgium, Spain, Serbia, Bosnia and Holland