Limited access to veterinary services hurts poultry, pig farmers

Dr. Theogen Rutagwenda, from the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources speaks at the conference.

The lack of veterinarians with skills in treating pigs, poor breeds of pigs, substandard abattoirs as well as expensive and substandard animal feeds are some of the challenges hurting the fortunes of pig farmers.

These challenges, which were highlighted on Wednesday at the annual Rwandan Veterinary Scientific Conference underway in Kigali, are compounded by poor farming practices.

Jean Claude Shirimpumu, the Chairman of Rwanda Pig Farmers Association said: “Due to these challenges, we do not access the market we wish.”

Despite the challenges, he projects that pork and chicken could account for 80 per cent of total meat production in the country by 2031.

Given this forecast, Shirimpumu says there’s a need to streamline veterinary services.

“We need to set up pig breeding centres, modern and standard abattoirs and value addition facilities. We ask the veterinary council to bring services closer to the farmers,” he said.

Shirimpumu proposed setting up a pig rearing research centre.

“Farmers need collection centres where they can sell their pigs because they (farmers) are still being exploited by middlemen."

Rwanda has a population of 1.7 million pigs. 

And with the number of pigs growing at a rate of 239 per cent, Shirimpumu said, pork could increase from 20,000 tonnes to 67,000 tonnes every year.

Challenges in poultry farming

Andrew Butare, the Chairman of Rwanda Poultry Industry Association, said the shortage of vaccines was one of the major challenges to the poultry industry.

“Farmers can walk long distances to access vaccines. The effectiveness of the vaccines on the market is also questionable. There are limited extension and laboratory services. Access to good quality services is a challenge in rural areas,” he said.

The framers’ concerns come at the time the livestock master plan projects that production of chicken meat will rise by 124 per cent in five years while that of eggs is expected to grow by110 per cent in the same period.

Rwanda’s poultry population increased from 3.5 million in 2010 to 7.6 million in 2018 with 69 per cent of the population being local breeds while 31 per cent are raised in commercial poultry farms with exotic breeds.

The domestic production of eggs in Rwanda has increased from 80 million eggs every year in 2010 to 132.7 million eggs in 2018.

Production of poultry meat increased from 13,718 tonnes in 2010 to 45,000 tonnes in 2018, according to official data.

For the sector to keep growing, Butare said that veterinary services need to be  closer to poultry farmers.

Dr Fabrice Ndayisenga, the Head of Animal Production at Rwanda Agricultural Development Board said the country has a shortage of veterinarians. 

There are about 4,500 veterinarians but only 3,000 have registered to the veterinary council of which only 500 are veterinary doctors.

Ndayisenga said the country needs at least 10,000 veterinarians. 

Dr Francois Xavier Rusanganwa, the president of Rwanda Veterinary Council said that the problem of unprofessionalism in the sector is being addressed. 

“We need to streamline veterinary services since Rwanda’s livestock population has grown significantly,” he said.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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