Pig production is a major source of livelihoods for over 1.1 million households in Uganda. Mainly kept by smallholder farmers under backyard systems, the pig is preferred because it grows fast, and eats leftover food and crop residues. In recent years, the Livestock and Fish program has worked in Uganda with partners to improve the livelihoods, incomes and assets of smallholder pig producers, particularly women, in a sustainable manner, by increasing productivity, reducing risk, and improving market access in pig value chains (more on this project).
Meet some of the farmers involved in the program:
She started pig farming in June 2014 with 20 two- month-old piglets using money she got from crop harvest sales and labour she provided off-farm.
She was driven by the need to better her financial condition from dependence to self-reliance. Her farm has grown to 15 sows, one boar and 45 piglets.
Madrine was one of the pig farmers trained by the project on utilisation of planted forage as a feeding option for pigs. She planted five forage species; Mulato, Lablab, Canavalia, Clitoria and Mulberry grown on a total acreage of about 0.5 acres and harvest close to 100kgs every two weeks. The rest of the five-acre plot of land is occupied by the family house and their crop farm where maize, sweetpotato, coffee, cassava, bananas and beans are grown.
She says that the fodder has offered her some relief to the feed challenge. When the price of commercial feed rises, she cuts back on the quantities she buys and uses more of the planted forages supplemented by a bit of the purchased feed. During the rainy season, the forage grows faster and she often sees no need to buy commercial feed. In her opinion, Mulato seem more resilient and tolerant to harsh conditions like dry spells and is indeed preferred by pigs to the other forage species. She plans to increase the acreage of planted forages to over an acre because she believes it will solve her pig feed dilemma.
Kabonera Sub County where Madrine lives has had recurrent outbreaks of African swine fever (ASF). This highly fatal disease in domestic pigs is feared by many farmers because of its high mortality rate, with the potential to wipe out an entire herd within days. Madrine shares this fear and has taken all necessary precautions within her means borrowing lessons she learnt from the training on biosecurity measures for the prevention of ASF, which was conducted for over 800 farmers in Masaka district.
Using old tin roofing materials, she has constructed a fence around her sties to keep out unauthorized visitors and restrict entry by stray animals. Additionally she utilizes a foot bath whereby all visitors to the farm must step in a trough containing disinfectant to minimize chances of pathogen transmission into her pig farm.
Madrine is quite optimistic that if the current pig market challenges are streamlined she will scale new heights of pig production to become a model large scale pig producer.
Margaret Ddungu has reared pigs for over 15 years starting with one sow and no sty. She now has 9 sows, a boar and 8 piglets that she keeps in a wooden sty. At 50, she seems not to have lost any of her youthful energy going by the speed at which she feeds her pigs. Her husband helps out with the dairy enterprise, chopping fodder for their 2 heifers while Margaret tends to the pigs. Their three sons are away at school.
Her pigs have been good to her, from the pig sales; she’s been able to raise school fees for her sons and money for her daily domestic needs. The couple is unable to find cheap labour and therefore tend to their crop farm where they grow coffee, bananas, maize and cassava. The farm provides food for the household and extra income when the crops are sold off at the time of harvest.
Her first contact with ILRI was in 2013 when she participated in the value chain assessment. Her most pressing challenge was access to quality and affordable feeds for her pigs. Her pigs were fed largely on crop residues, kitchen swill and sometimes maize bran that she bought when she had extra cash.
She participated in a training organized by CIAT and ILRI where she was taught how to plant forage on her farm. Among the varieties she planted were Canavalia brasiliensis, Clitoria ternatea, Lablab purpureus, Brachiaria Mulato and Mulberry.
Unfortunately, her forage garden was adversely affected by recent dry spells. All was not lost though, the more resilient species like Mulato and lablab survived.
“My pigs love the forage, but seem to prefer Mulato. I have been able to save on my expenses for feeds by a third of the previous cost” Margaret says.
She adds that her pigs are growing faster than before she started feeding them on the forage. She plans to increase the land allocation to planted forages to a whole acre.
Though he started off with tethering, he later upgraded to intensive pig rearing in sties after getting training by the government-led National Agricultural Advisory Services in 2003.
He currently keeps 6 pigs as part of his 5 acre-large farmland. He also engages in crop farming and grows sweetpotato, cassava, bananas, coffee, paw paw and avocado.
The pig enterprise has provided money for his children’s school fees and he was able to start a poultry farm and retail shop for his wife out of the pig sales.
Kato has faced numerous challenges: In 2001 his farm was hit by African swine fever that wiped out his entire herd. He resumed pig keeping in 2003. He is also challenged by the scarcity and poor quality of pig feeds. He finds feeding both costly and time-consuming because it takes time to locate a reliable feed stockist as many retailers in the neighbourhood sell adulterated feed. He also lacks proper housing for his pigs. The one-acre plot of land that he owns is split between his crop farm, residential house, poultry enterprise and the pig farm.
To feed his animals, he joined training courses by ILRI and partners on feed formulation using locally available feed resources, planting and utilization of forages as well as making sweetpotato silage. He planted Mulato, Lablab, Canavalia, Clitoria and Mulberry on a 40ft x 50ft plot of land. Mulato and Lablab leaves seem to be preferred by his pigs while he often disguises the rest of the forage species with sweetpotato vines and other crop residues.
Muwonge has also made sweetpotato silage by compounding and ensiling sweetpotato vines and tubers, cassava, pawpaws and avocado. These different formulations and planted fodder have enabled him spend less on commercial feeds.
“Initially, I fed each pig on 3 kg of maize bran per day, now with the different forages and silage I use between 1.5 and 2kg of maize bran per pig per day. I save about Ugs. 5,400 on feeding per day,” he says.
Kato is vice chairperson of the Kabonera-Kyanamukaaka pig farmers’ cooperative society. It is piloting a pig business hub in Kabonera Sub County where they hope to collectively sell their pigs and jointly purchase farm inputs and services. The group has already embarked on joint purchase of brewers’ waste as an option for their pig feeds.
Though very optimistic about this enterprise, Kato seeks support for proper pig housing and water harvesting technology to solve his farm’s water problem.