Cholistan in the Southwest of Punjab, is a part of the Sarasvati Civilization. Bordering Bahawalpur, Bahawalnagar and Rahim Yar Khan districts, this desert area is spread over 6.6 million acres. The desert can be divided into two parts; Greater Cholistan in the south and Lesser Cholistan in the north. The former is mostly sandy and dunned while the latter is largely plane with wide patches of salinization locally called ‘Dahar’. Cholistan is among the driest and the hottest areas of Pakistan with average temperatures between 35-38oC, reaching up to 50oC during summer and dropping to 16oC during winter. The average annual rainfall is 100 mm with humidity remained around 50 percent.

Historically, this area was irrigated through Indian originated Hakra river. With the occupation of this river by India, freshwater resources have been depleted. This leaves this area totally dependent on rainfall, which is neither sufficient not reliable. Other water resources are not fit for irrigation or human consumption due to quality and are not economically accessible. A large segment of population collects rain water in ponds and pools for human and animal consumption, that too last only for 3-4 months of the year. Any variation in rainfall pattern reduces water availability in this area, resulting in massive penalties on 1.55 million humans and 1.32 animal heads.

Livestock rearing is the backbone of Cholistan economy, as it satisfies major needs of a cottage industry as well as milk, meat, and fat for the population. The nomadic way of life in this area makes it necessary for the people to bred animals for sale, milked or shorn for their wool. Camels and desert are very close in relation. Camel is the largest breeding ground in the Cholistan with a current population of about 0.36 million. Camels in Cholistan are not only used for the transportation and loading purposes, but its skin and wool is also used to make woolen blankets known as falsies and into stylish and durable rugs. The camel's leather is also utilized in making kuppies, goblets, and expensive lampshades. Camel milk and meat are a good source of nutrients for people living in the arid and urban areas.

Camel milk has low cholesterol, low sugar, high minerals (sodium, potassium, iron, copper, zinc, and magnesium) and high vitamin C when compared with other ruminant milk. Camel milk contains various fatty acids, enzymes, and protective proteins. Camel milk has potential therapeutic effects, such as antibacterial, antiviral, antidiabetic, anti-aging and anticarcinogenic. Not only camel milk but also camel meat, in general, is considered a functional food for cures and remedy for many ailments such as seasonal fever, sciatica, shoulder pain, asthma, removing freckles and for improved performance, in many cultures around the world. Furthermore, camel milk has been used for the treatment of food allergies, Crohn’s disease, and autism. The wildlife of Cholistan desert mostly consists of migratory birds, especially Houbara bustard who migrates to this part during winters.

Cholistan is struck by famine every third year and a major famine every decade, which has forced people to migrate to nearby towns and cities. It is squeezing in size, the land grabbing is one of the important issues and the grazing lands are decreasing every day. The small ruminants and cattle breeders already left the occupation of livestock husbandry, but the camel herders adapted a new way while moving long routes with their camel and traveling up to the desert of Cholistan.

Over the last 2 decades, governments have taken few important steps to increase water supply for the Cholistan. Under the administration of Cholistan Development Authority (CDA), Bahawalpur, about 400 million rupees have been invested to construct four pipelines extending more than 245 kilometers to alleviate the water scarcity problem on a perpetual basis. The aim is to supply the canal water to the water-deprived areas. This line supply fresh water to more than 10,000 and over a million heads of livestock including cattle, sheep, goat and camel. Second pipe line of 34 kilometers is laid between Meer Garh and Churi to benefit over 5,000 people and 40,000 livestock. Third pipe line of 79 km will provide water to 10,000 people and 0.15 billion livestock. Yet another pipe line is extended to supply fresh water to the 5,000 people and fifty thousand animals of Tafana.

Keeping in view of the scarcity of water, PCRWR is spending 152 million rupees to supply 7.7 billion liters of water through the construction of 70 ponds and installation of tube wells and water distillation plants. This project is playing a significant role in limiting migration of the people and livestock. The total number of Tobias, Sotar Peen, ponds, Kunds, Dugyan and tube wells is 2353, 32000, 133, 143 and 43 respectively. Besides these, 12 turbines are also suppling water to the area.

Despite these concerted efforts, the problem persists. More focussed efforts are needed to overcome challenges of water availability and food security in the Cholistan desert. Camel production can be an important step to meet the food security challenges because camel has the capacity to bear draught, environmental changes, global warming and creeping desertification, threats of disease and competition on feed and water resources. Out of all of desert’s livestock, the camel is the hardiest, staying alive in those tough conditions. The "ship of desert" facilitated peoples migration towards the green belt of Sindh. Moreover, all the routs were buried under the sand because of harsh winds, leaving people lost. But it was the camel's credible instincts which led the cholistani’s to the nearest green belt.  the humped animal was nothing less than a saviour.

Increased camel population can help increase milk production in this harsh and hostile ecology. A sum of 120,000 liters of milk can be available if channelized in the Cholistan and its peripheries. The milk can be pasteurized, chilled and packed for value addition. Many by-products can be made from camel milk and plenty of markets are available around the Cholistan and even at over the waters. Conduct of fairs and milk contests can also provoke the camel herders to improve milk production. Value addition is another tool to make camel production profitable i.e. Kurth, sorain, ice cream, chocolates and other products can be made from it. Camel milk can also be used as a tool for poverty alleviation. Work on racing ability of Mareecha breed should be another avenue to develop Camel husbandry because there is a high demand for racing camels at home and in the rich Gulf countries. The camel also has a good potential as meat export to the rich Gulf countries.

These challenges are big with enough potential however, this will require a holistic approach on all faucets of camel production by all players on the ground with the help of Rohi people to make a difference in their lives and also convert this future food basket into greener and greener. How early it can be done, will depend on how serious we are to bring this dream into reality.