Rwf13bn to modernise pig farming, improve value chain

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A sow and its piglets. Efforts to improve pig farming and quality along the value chain are in progress. ( File)

The Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources and private sector will inject over Rwf13 billion to improve the pig farming industry, especially by promoting new processing technologies to ensure standards.

Of the total cost for the pig value chain development, 84 per cent is from the private sector and the remaining 16 per cent will be contributed by the government and development partners, according to the draft Livestock Master Plan that will be validated on October 19, 2017.

Didace Rushigajiki, the livestock specialist at the ministry, said the money will also be used to build capacity of farmers and extension staff on pig breeding, as well as disease control and value chain development to enable market access.

Rushigajiki said policies that promote quality and market access were in the pipeline. The official was addressing pig farmers and other stakeholders on sector issues, including market access, standards and modern farming methods, in Kigali on Friday.

He said the ministry would be regulating sector prices to ensure that farmers are not exploited by middlemen and buyers.

Stakeholders will also be facilitated to set up modern slaughterhouses to promote standards along the value chain. The official urged farmers to target big buyers, including hotels and restaurants, as well as the export market.

He said the lack of modern production technologies and practices was affecting quality and competitiveness of local piggery products in the local and export markets.

He noted that the government was looking for more ways to support farmers and other stakeholders along the value chain, a move he said would boost productivity and standards.

Increasing production

Rwanda targets to increase pork production from 20,000 tonnes presently to 68,000 tonnes in the next five years (2023-24), the ministry and sector players said. They also look to establish more processing plants for pig products. There are currently only five modern slaughterhouses in the country.

DR Congo is Rwanda’s biggest pork market, with the new project, farmers and dealers are seeking to expand into other markets in the region.

Rushigajiki said that farmers, especially small-scale producers, will get improved pig breeds that are more productive and disease resistant under the project. The initiative will also promote artificial insemination for quick multiplication and stock quality improvement, he added.

So far, three pig breeds - Large White, Pietrain and Landrace - are being multiplied and distributed to farmers countrywide to spur production.

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Shirimpumu. (Eddie Nsabimana)

Community processing centres

Jean Claude Shirimpumu, the managing director of Rwanda Pig Farmers Association (RPFA), said they are working with Rwanda Agriculture Board to establish modern community processing centres to ensure that pig products meet quality standards. Shirimpumu said some big hotels and restaurants were still importing pork in big quantities because “they do not trust the standards of our products.”

He was optimistic that the project interventions would address the challenge and open doors to new markets.

The lack of modern slaughterhouses in communities has compromised standards, a situation that has affected efforts to enter new pork markets outside the country.

He reiterated the need for farmers to acquire improved breeds and embrace modern husbandry practices and technologies to promote standards, saying this was instrumental for them to access better markets.

Shirimpumu said: “We want to adopt new technologies that will help us professionalise pig rearing and processing to be able to enter new markets,” he said.

“It is also important that Rwandans start looking at piggery as a good and profitable business and this should be the right time for pig farmers to do it with professionalism.”

Farmers speak out

Peter Ngirumugenga, a pig farmer from Rwamagana, told The New Times that it is essential for farmers to get improved breeds, saying it is the only way to increase and sustain production. He added that more modern slaughterhouses were needed to win consumer confidence.

“Our products are being turned down by buyers because of standards, which arises from the way they are processed and handled along the value chain. I am confident the hotels and restaurants will start buying our pork in large quantities if we get more modern slaughterhouses and ensure standards along the process,” Ngirumugenga said.