In the livestock sub-sector, we have heard of dairy and poultry cooperative societies. But now a group of pig farmers in Kiambu county have decided to unite and form an association that will help them voice their issues as well as propel the different facets of pig rearing.
In the last few years, pig farming in Kenya has gradually risen to become one of the top agribusiness ventures. Pork accounts for 38 per cent of the world’s meat production, making it a very popular. When done correctly, it could be a profitable business in Kenya as demand for pork is very high and the market is growing rapidly. But the supply is still limited. So, there are great opportunities in starting a commercial pig farm in Kenya.
To enjoy economies of scale and eliminate middlemen, Mbugua Kamau, the treasurer of Pig Farmers’ Association of Kiambu (PFAK) believes that uniting was the only strategy. “We decided to come together as pig farmers of Kiambu after realising there are many people who are doing pig farming and need a voice of representation as well as a body to unit them. According to Kamau, when people were on their own, the middlemen had a field day. It was also difficult to know the current trends in pig farming but after forming this association, the story is different and the farmers are relieved.”
Generally large white, landrace, Yorkshires, Duroc, and Hampshire are the most profitable pig breeds in Kenya. Swines reproduce twice a year, their gestation period being only 114 days; three months, three weeks, and three days.
Successful pig farming combines having the right breed, suitable housing, proper feeding, disease and pest management, among other practices that must be observed. This goes a long way in minimizing losses to assure farmers of good profit margin.
Mwangi said that they have been able to learn from each other and also visit pig demonstration farms together to ensure that no one is left behind. Training pig farmers is a crucial component towards successful farming. The knowledge acquired helps pig farmers to see and do things differently.
“We cannot do pig farming as our parents did. It requires change of tact. For different results, we have to do business unusual. Farmers need training on the right breeds, how to breed the pigs, how to take care of the piglets, quality feeding, watering, proper housing and hygiene,” said Mbugua.
Additionally, the farmers have been trained on pig business models, pests and diseases of pigs and their control, vaccination protocols, good animal welfare, record keeping, herd management, when to call in a veterinarian, waste management.
Increase in fodder prices
For the past one year, livestock producers and animal feeds manufacturers have raised concerns over the unprecedented increase in fodder prices which have led to closure of both livestock farming enterprises and many feed mills leading to job losses and the pig sub-sector has not been left behind. Now, the industry is turning to black soldier fly as an alternative to protein sources such as soya-bean meal whose prices have skyrocketed in recent times.
Mbugua added that “individual farmers previously made their own marketing arrangements, with obvious risks. One of the issues that we are working on is the development of an efficient pork market, which will give customers easy access to good quality pork products, and assure farmers of a reliable market. Kenyans are showing increasing preference for pork.”
There is a huge demand of pig and pig products in the market. Pigs such as piglets and pregnant gilts as well pig products such as pork, bacon, sausages are very popular throughout the whole Kenya. So, you don’t need to worry about marketing your products if you want to start pig farming business since you can open a pork butchery or even do value addition by cooking it in the various ways for your customers.
Although the association is currently domiciled in Kiambu Country, it shall soon spread to other parts of the country since pig farming is now practised all over Kenya.