Why more farmers in Nyanza are taking up pig farming

Pig farmer Elly Ochieng tends to his pigs at his piggery in Nyangoma Kogello village, Siaya County. [Kepher Otieno, Standard]

Elly Ochieng', 48, is busy cleaning the piggery in Kogello village, Siaya County, when The Smart Harvest and Technology team visits. Ochieng' ventured into pig farming five years ago to meet the growing demand for pork.

According to Dr Benard Chemweno regional coordinator Kenya Tsetse and Trypanosomiasis Eradication Council (KENTTEC), pork is a rich source of proteins and other essential minerals.

''Pork is an excellent source of vitamins and minerals, including thiamine, zinc, vitamin B12, vitamin B6, niacin, phosphorus, and iron,'' says Chemweno.

This is why many farmers in Nyanza are venturing into pigs farming for domestic and commercial purposes.

According to Chemweno, they have helped more than 800 pigs farmers in Migori, Kisumu, Homa Bay and Siaya counties to set up piggeries in the last five years.

Ochieng' admits that there is a high demand for pork meat in the local markets, but the supply is low.

As pig farming is gaining popularity, more local butcheries are demanding pork meat almost every day.

Nutritive value

Chemweno says in the last two decades, pig farming in Kenya has gradually risen to become one of the top agribusiness ventures.

Ochieng' keeps large white, landrace and Duroc pigs breed. A landrace is long, big, farrow more and are very good mothers.

On the other hand, large white is big and strong while Duroc grows very fast.

Ochieng's daily task is to make sure that the sows are properly fed and kept in good health to grow well and thrive.

Given that their coat and skin colour make them prone to sunburn they should enjoy regular mud baths and the shade.

He says pigs are more sensitive to the environmental changes and require more attention.

Nelson Ochieng at his piggery in Nyangoma Kogello village, Siaya County. [Kepher Otieno, Standard]

But if they are properly taken care off, a single sow can give birth up to 12 piglets in 130 days. 

Ochieng' is one of the farmers in Nyanza who have taken up the venture to boost their incomes.  He started with two pigs male and female, but today he has more than 30 on his small farm.

Chemweno explains that pigs require adequate space, quiet environment and enough food to thrive.

Like Ochieng' John Omollo, Maurice Odhiambo and Pamela Auma, are also keeping between 5-15 piglets to tap into the market niche.

With proper management practices, Auma says, pigs are ready for sale after six months.

Auma sells her pigs to Farmers Choice and butcheries across the counties in Nyanza.

She says she started rearing pigs because they are easy to maintain and their meat is on demand.

"One should construct a pig shed measuring at least 20 metres by 24 metres,'' says Omollo.

Omollo explains that after a gestation period of three months, each pig is likely to sire at least 10 piglets per year. 

After constructing a pigsty, the farmer can source for the high-yielding sows. The common breeds in Kenya are Large White, Landrace, Hampshire and Duroc.

Kentecc CEO Dr Pamela Olet says they are encouraging farmers to rear pigs in large scale in Nyanza to meet the growing demand.

''We are helping farmers to vaccinate the pigs for common diseases after every three months so that they remain strong and healthy," Olet said.

Pig meat she notes, is rich and nutritious.

"Pork is one of the great dietary sources of protein,'' she says.

To boost pig farming, Kenttec plans to increase farmers breed stock to at least 800-1,000 pigs so that they become major suppliers of meat. The organisation is also training them to embrace value addition to boost yields.

Just like any other business, any person planning to venture into pig farming must do research to determine whether the business is viable in their area.

The numbers

Pork accounts for 38 per cent of the world’s meat production, making it popular meat, because of its medicinal and nutritional value.

According to a nutritionist, Christine Otieno, like all meat, pork is mostly made up of protein. The protein content of lean, cooked pork is around 26 per cent by fresh weight.

When dry, the protein content of lean pork can be as high as 89 per cent — making it one of the richest dietary sources of protein.

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