A farmer’s experience in pig farming and commercialisation

Piglets nursing. Pigs can deliver up to twice a year when they are well taken care of. Photos by Marie Dushimimana.

Joan Nkuriye Kayumba,a resident of Katabagema in Nyagatare District, decided try out professional pig farming on realising how profitable the venture could be.

Nkuriye, who now owns more than 150 pigs and sells a number of them every month, said she started with three pigs; twofemale and one male in 2016.

She started out with capital of about Rwf200,000 which she used to buy local pigs and build their shed.

“From my experience, pig farming doesn’t require huge capital. It is easier for farmers because these domestic animals do not have special or unique dietary requirements,” she said.

After realising that local breed of pigs is not as profitable, she decided to change to a different breed.

Jean Claude Shirimpumu, the president of Pig Farmers Association

“The local one deliver between four and five piglets, but the hybrid delivers between 12 and 17 piglets,” she said.

She brought in two pregnant pigs and after two months, one delivered 11 piglets, while the other delivered 14, she said.

“I started from there and have been making money from it. Every month I sell piglets and one can cost between Rwf50,000 to Rwf60,000, while the medium sized one can be sold at between Rwf100,000 and Rwf150, 000,” she said.

 However, the challenge remains the mindset of potential clients, who often don’t know the right value of pigs often want to pay very little which would render her venture unprofitable given the the investment she makes, she said.

“Some people, especially residents from the eastern region think that a piglet can be sold as little as Rwf7,000 to Rwf15,000 which would only apply to the local breed of pigs. For us professional pig farmers, we make investment to make sure they are well fed and are kept under ideal conditions,” she said.

Besides, finding the good breeds is still a challenge as they are rare to find and often expensive.

“We also still have a problem of market, as we don’t have any slaughter slab in Rwanda. Each farmer has their own way of selling their products which makes prices irregular. We think if the government helps us with slaughter slabs, this business would be more productive and create more jobs,” she said.

She advises youth and other unemployed people to try pig farming as it doesn’t require much capital and it brings profit over a short period.

“One pig can deliver up to 17 piglets with only a gestation period of four months. In a period of one to two months, one piglet is sold at Rwf60,000. There are few other businesses which can bring in profits like that,” she said.

Pigs can deliver up to twice a year when they are well taken care of, she said.

“Since 2016, my pigs haven’t been ill or succumbed to any diseases because I stick to proper practices including diet and hygiene,” she said.

Jean Claude Shirimpumu, the president of Pig Farmers Association, said the major challenges they still face include finding the best breeds which is still difficult, as well as expensive feeds.

“For now, ideal feeds from costs between Rwf220 and Rwf250. In the local market, we still only have two types of foods, one for piglets another for adult pigs. However, when you look into developed markets, they have at least five types of foods and hence better end products,” he said.

He said that working within the association as pig farmers helps them to share experience and overcome some of these challenges. As a group, they invite pig farming experts to build their capacity and skills to be more professional.

“We need to work hard in order to use the opportunities we have as pig farmers,” he said.

The Pig Farmers Association is made of 75 people operating around the country. The platform also which brings together more than 200 stakeholders in the sector to share information every day.

Dr Solange Uwituze, the Deputy Director General in charge of Animal Resources Research and Technology Transfer at Rwanda Agricultural Board, said it is obvious that pig farming can be a solution to help youth get out of poverty hence the Government interest in the sector.

Uwituze said there is an upcoming Rwf 15 billion project to boost pig and poultry farming, which will focus on animal feed production.

“Rwandans used to hate pigs but today things are changing. We are very optimist that in the coming years, it will be a very big business,” she said.

At the moment, Rwanda produces 20 tonnes of pork annually, which is far different from the target of 60 tonnes going by the market demand at the moment, according to the Pig Farmers Association.