Youth restores sanity in Uganda’s pig farming

 

pigfarmingA 28 year old youth’s desire to improve piggery standards in Uganda has seen him setup a pig production and marketing organization aimed at structuring and empowering pig farmers in a sector that is largely informal with no clear government guidance.

Having embarked on Pig farming in 2009 after completion of his A- level education, Christopher Mulindwa encountered a myriad of challenges in a venture that he had hoped to easily succeed in given that pork is a delicacy among many Ugandan families.

Disease outbreaks wiping out the herds, market challenges and poor breeds were among the setbacks faced by Mulindwa. “Contrary to the believe among the youths especially on online social platforms like Face book that farming is a roller coaster affair, I faced my tribulations right from the farm with poor breeds, adulterated feeds and the most annoying one being greed and exploitation from traders who were riding on farmers’ ignorance to make a kill. The pig production sector in Uganda is largely informal and as result there were no clear set out regulations and established buyers or abattoirs to take the supply,” explained Mulindwa.

In order to overcome the unscrupulous traders, Mulindwa and other farmers formed WATUBBA, a pig farmers association for farmers within Matuga area (Wakiso district) with a sole aim of bulk production and supply in order to ride on their large and consistent production to enjoy economies. The association picked on well and solved the issue of market.

However, other pertinent issues arose which needed solutions in order to keep the farmers in production. Given that most smallholder farmers in the trade were less educated and therefore depend on almost guesswork putting the whole production at a risk. “We needed reliable supply of good parental stock that would give us value for money. We also lacked specialized consultancy services. For instance, the outbreak and containment of pig diseases like African swine fever was almost impossible. A case in point where five members of our association who lost their entire herd to the dreaded disease,” noted the soft spoken youth.

According to Mulindwa, nature had called in for his services since he was more informed and formally educated having already graduated with a degree in Environmental Science. In addition, he had alsoundergone specialized training from International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in pig production and management as well as serving as a research assistant at the research organization. Time was ripe for him to exercise his knowledge and skills in offering solutions to pig farmers and in 2012, Mulindwa in partnership with a friend Kyeyune Alex established Uganda Pig Production and Marketing. The aim of the organization is advancing pig production in Uganda and offer more competitive markets, offer consultancy services to farmers, partners with other players to conduct research and supply better cross breeds for farmers. The ultimate goal according to the youthful director of the organization is to establish a crop pig farming system.

To foster their goals, PPM currently conducts national pig farmers’ trainings twice annually. “The trainings are important because its’ the only platform through which we can instill commercialization skills among the farmers. The cost of the two day training is about UShs 80000. However considering that most smallholder farmers may not afford the costs, PPM has partnered with other development organizations like Africa Rural Connect and Mission Africa who sponsor the less financially endowed smallholder farmers.

In order to offer sustainable market to the farmers, the firm has also set out an abattoir which receives supply of pigs from farmers and offer competitive market prices in addition to specialized consultancy services. “Depending on the prevailing market prices and dedication one has offered to his herd, we currently offer Ushs6000-6500 per kilo. We also encourage transparency and therefore conduct weight recordings together with the farmers,” said Mulindwa.
PPM has three farms with over 500 pigs mainly for breeding and distribution to farmers. According to Mulindwa, “In livestock production, pure breeds are not encouraged as they are always deemed weak and therefore cross breeds are sought after. But in order to acquire better cross breeds, one needs to be knowledgeable of what variety is best fit for which environment. Therefore since such a process needs experts, we are currently offering these services to our farmers. We supply to them two month piglets at a cost of about Ushs80000.” The success of the organization has seen them export pigs to Tanzania, Rwanda and Kenya.

The organization has also partnered with Belgium government development organization SIDA to set up a boar stud to help in the offering of artificial insemination services. Mulindwa indicated that the facility which is expected to be running at the end of 2015 will be a huge step towards the commercialization of the sector because currently, semen for A.I in pigs in Uganda is imported.

The social enterprise in piggery has received praise from a number of development partners with ILRI partnering with them in their current project of smallholder pig farmers production in Uganda. Other research organizations that are working with PPM include the national research organization NARO, Makerere University among others.

Pig farming is an emerging sector in Uganda. With an estimated population of 3.4 million pigs spread through 1.1 million households, these figures indicate most are small-scale farmers, keeping from one to three pigs. There is an increasing consumption of pork in the country. At 3.4kg per person per year, a report by Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) shows Uganda has the highest per capita consumption of pork in Sub-Saharan Africa. Unlike other countries where the consumption is boosted by tourists, Ugandans consume their own pork.