High income, appetite for pork, drive up pig industry

Piglets at a piggery in Gicumbi District. File.

Pig farming in Rwanda has been growingprogressively with the number of pigs increasing by 76% in the last five years to over 1.7 million, according to statistics from the Ministry of Agriculture an Animal Resources (MINAGRI).

According to stakeholders, such a significant growth is due to the growing appetite for pork, disease control in pigs, availability of animal feeds, and high returns that farmers get from pig farming, among other aspects.

Jean Claude Shirimpumu, a farmer and the chairperson of the RwandaPig Farmers’ Association, told Sunday Times that the number of pig farmers as well as that of pork consumers has increased as people have improved knowledge aboutsector.

The Gicumbi District-based farmer started with five pigs in 2009. Now, he has about 700 pigs in his piggery.

For meat, the farmer sells between 50 and 100 adult pigs per month, and between 50 and 100 little pigs per month depending on the liking of his clients. The  cost depend on their weight, with a kilogramme [of the live animal] priced at between Rwf1,200 and Rwf1,300.

“People have understood that the pig breeds we are raising are hygienic, such that they go to the butchery and buy pig meat,” he said.

Shirimpumu saidpork has also been integrated in parties’ as well as restaurants’ and hotels’ menu, , adding that all those factors contributed to the growth of the industry.

He said the problem is still on production as the demand for pork is on the rise, and consequently, might by far exceed meat production, calling for professional pig farming to increase pig productivity, pointing out that the over 1 million pigs available in Rwandans are few compared to 12 million Rwandans who need food.

The director of Come Again Bar, Alexis Gasana, told Sunday Times that the number of people engaged in pork business has been increasing as they have realised the potential such a business has in generating money, pointing out that almost every bar now has ‘Akabenzi’ – the nickname for pork.

Come Again Bar is based in Remera Sector of Gasabo District, and has a branch in Kicukiro District.

The Bar started serving pork to its clients three years ago, and sells between 100 kiolgrammes and 150 kilogrammes of meat per day.

“People have been preparing pork as they do for chicken and goat meat, yetpork should be specially cooked as it has a higher level of fats. So, we got an effective method to reduce such fat from pork for proper preparation, and that’s why people like it,” he said.

Talking about factors that have been developing pig industry in Rwanda, Dr TheogeneRutagwenda, Director General of Animal Resources Development at MINAGRI, cited pig feed production whereby there are five factories producing animal feeds yet that was not there before.

Other contributing factors, Rutagwenda said, are disease control efforts, especially the African swine fever (ASF), which is a highly contagious hemorrhagic disease that commonly affects pigs, and Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) – a severe, highly contagious viral disease of livestock with significant economic impact.

There is also pig genetic improvement to get quality and highly productive breeds such as Landrace and Pietrain breeds.

Rutagwenda said that consuming pig meat is not taboo as some people used to believe, adding that there are many pork consumers both Rwandan, and foreigners.

“In fact, pig meat is healthier than red meat,” he said.

Dr. Rutagwenda said that the Government removed Value Added Tax (VAT) from processed feeds; making them cheaper for farmers.

Processing and Marketing.

In collaboration with RPFA, modern pig slaughterhouses are being constructed in Rulindo, Rubavu and Kigali for value chain.

He said that Rugari Meat Processing company has constructed a modern slaughter facility in Kanombe.

On plans in place to develop this livestock subsector, and future undertakings, Dr. Rutagwenda cited a small livestock project in Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB) that focuses on pigs especially in Southern and West parts of Rwanda.

“We have just elaborated a livestock master plan targeting an increase of 239% of pig meat in the next 5 years moving from 19,000 to 67,000 metric tons of pork,” he said.

editorial@newtimes.co.rw