When the CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish set out to transform the pig value chain in Uganda in early 2012, it was hard to conceive how much could be achieved within five years.
For a start, the policy environment in the country was not very favourable: The national Livestock Development Strategy and Implementation Plan drawn by the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries did not consider the pig industry as a priority. The social landscape was quite prejudicial against pork consumption and the media often reported half-truths relating pork consumption to disease, psychological disorders and other undesirable health conditions.
Three years on, after much dedicated research, public and private-sector partner engagement and practical interventions along the pig value chain, the program’s initiatives have started to bear fruit. The Smallholder Pig Value Chain Development (SPVCD) project helped producers address feed constraints by formulating pig feeds using locally available feed resources and improving pig health by designing protocols to control Africa Swine Fever. The associated Safe Food, Fair Food project improved pork safety through research on prevalence and control of the Taenia solium (pork tapeworm) and training of farmers, slaughterers and pork inspectors.
To improve market access for farmers, the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and its local partners have championed the formation and registration of seven pig farmers’ cooperative societies that help farmers to collectively market their pigs and jointly access inputs and services. A feasibility study on the set up of a pig business hub in Kabonera-Kyanamukaaka sub county of Masaka District was carried out to find ways to improve access to affordable pig business inputs and services for the smallholder producers and enhance business opportunities for other value chain actors like input service providers, transporters and pig traders.
At the slaughter node of the value chain, the SPVCD project has undertaken a feasibility study for the setup of a centralized pig abattoir in Masaka District and a business plan for this facility. Elsewhere, the Irish Aid-funded More Pork project has facilitated the setup of a biogas plant at Wambizzi Pig Cooperative, the only formal centralized pig abattoir in the country, as a pilot study on waste management at the slaughter node.
The multi-stakeholder platforms (MSPs) initiated in 2014 by ILRI in partnership with SNV continue to gather momentum. Having identified feed constraints as the major impediment to pig production across the country, the interim committee of the national MSP has engaged the Minister for Agriculture, Animal Industy and Fisheries to advocate revision of the feeds policy to strengthen the enforcement of quality standards of pig feeds.
To extend local capacities, ILRI and its local partners have developed a series of training manuals for the pig value chain that addresses information and knowledge gaps on different aspects of pig husbandry. The seven modules cover:
- pig feeding
- parasite control
- boar management
- African swine fever control
- pig management
- marketing and institutional strengthening, and
- pig business planning and financial management.
Both the public and private sectors in Uganda are gradually embracing the pig value chain as a vehicle for social and economic transformation. At a recent value chain strategic implementation and planning meeting, held 14-15 May 2015, it was revealed that Fresh Cuts, a commercial meat processor, is to set up a separate pork production and processing line to meet the growing demand for pork products in the country.
The Uganda government is reviewing its development strategy to incorporate piggery among it priority enterprises for investment. The National Livestock Resources Research Institute (NaLIRRI) for instance, has included pig husbandry among its research priorities and at the district level, pigs are now considered among the top priority livestock species alongside cattle and poultry. In Masaka District, the local government has partnered with the Chinese government and 55 entrepreneurs to boost livestock value addition particularly in pork processing.
The College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences at Makerere University has restructured its curriculum to ensure that all agriculture students are taught livestock (including pigs) for the entire four-year degree course. Development organizations like ADINA Foundation in Lira and Devenish Nutrition in Hoima are implementing piggery projects with the latter setting up a pig breeding centre to supply smallholder farmers with proven breeding animals.
All this effort came together at the recent planning meeting where stakeholder envisioned their joint efforts leading to ‘an efficient, all inclusive and sustainable pig value chain for safe and affordable products, contributing equitably to improved livelihoods in Uganda’.