You might not stand the sight of these creatures. The stench from their ‘living area’ could also be unbearable at times, making them top on the list of “have nots” for many a farmer. But for Anita Kwizera, these creatures are like gold.
Kwizera, a 32-year-old bachelor’s of business administration graduate, rears pigs at her AFK Company farm in Nyakinama, Muko sector in Musanze District. Kwizera says she first ventured into business in 2011, when she started an events management company called Royal Services Agency. Later, she expanded the business and set up a piggery project in 2012.
She says she has largely been able to run her enterprises profitably, thanks to the knowledge in business management.
How she started
Kwizera says her venture into piggery was borne out of a discussion she overheard at a conference.
“During the break, I heard some of the participants talking about how lucrative pig rearing was.
They said it is easy to set up a piggery project, and outlined other benefits of pig rearing,” she says.
“I picked interest and when I went home after the conference I did some more research about it.
The information I found out about piggery convinced me that it was worth a try.”
She notes that after making all the necessary research about the best pig breeds and feeds, among others, she contracted builders to set up a pig pen for the venture. However, it turned out that in her enthusiasm, she had overlooked the issue of project funding. That was one of the first hiccups that hit the project.
“The expenses were overwhelming… I started the project with 30 pigs that cost between Rwf25,000 and Rwf30,000 each depending on breed and age,” she says.
She adds that she was also not prepared for their feeding, noting they require lot of food daily, yet one has to wait for about six months to start earning from such a venture.
“The feeds were expensive, but I had to endure because I was determined to make the venture a success,” she notes.
She also sought advice from people in the same business, which helped overcome some of the other challenges she faced, like treatment and recommended husbandry practices.
Kwizera says though piggery farming is labour intensive and needs a lot of attention in terms of feeding and maintaining hygiene, the challenges are offset by the huge financial benefits.
Pig rearing is a lucrative business which I would encourage people to venture into. She says she sells kilogramme of pork at costs Rwf1,200, for those who buy in bulk, while the retail price is Rwf2,000.
Besides, a breeding sow produces between six and 10 piglets every three months, Kwizera says. She says she established the project in Musanze District because it is strategically positioned to serve the DR Congo and Rwanda markets.
Kwizera says the local business environment is encouraging, adding that the government supports entrepreneurs, especially the women.
She, however, says farmers still encounter numerous problems that affect their growth and profitability.
“Sometimes we face challenges, like stiff competition from established and big companies and lack of quality feeds,” she says.
She adds that prices fluctuate almost all the time, especially when there is oversupply on the market.
“But I am trying to deal with this challenge by constructing a slaughterhouse.
“I hope this will boost my income since it is more profitable to sell pork,” Kwizera says.
She says she was also lucky that a friend of hers connected her to buyers in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where she currently exports some of the pork.
These challenges, she says, have tested her business acumen, but she soldiers on.
Kwizera’s farm now has 200 pigs. The entrepreneurs has three businesses to her name, one which deals with events management, Royal Services Agency, AFK Company and Rapid Line, a tour and travels agency. She has also bought land and is constructing a modern family house.
She attributes her success to the savings culture she adapted since her university days.
“I have never taken a loan… I started all the businesses using savings from my previous job,” Kwizera explains.
She is presently pursuing a master’s programme in international relations at Mahatma Gandhi University Kigali.
With the skills and knowledge acquired, she believes she will be in better position to expand her businesses and penetrate more the international markets, among others.
Idah Kirabo, her deputy, says Kwizera is a hardworking woman.
She says that working with Kwizera has been an inspiration to her.
“She has tight schedules, but she always makes it a point to attend to all her businesses in person. When she doesn’t come, she calls to know how things are going,” Kirabo says.
Kwizera urges business people to always plan and avoid doing things on impulse. She advises women to know their worth and understand that they are powerful people and can achieve their dreams if they put their mind to it.
“The most important thing is to have priorities and set goals for yourself; know what you want and strive to get it. Importantly, women should learn to save and reduce on the expenses on certain things, like wardrobes and jewelry,” she says.
Kwizera hopes to construct a modern slaughterhouse and butchery. She says she has already bought the land for the project.
How to start a pig farming venture
Raising a few pigs at home can be a rewarding family project. To begin, buy piglets that are 68 weeks old.
These are raised to market weight in about six months of age.
Ensure you buy healthy piglets. Characteristics to look for include smooth hair coat, pink skin colour and alertness.
A pig will drink 24 gallons of water a day. Clean, fresh water should be availed at all times.
There are many types of automatic waterers available, or you can simply provide a tub of water.
Watering systems should be checked and cleaned regularly, especially during warm weather. Secure the water tub firmly as pigs will root under it and spill the contents.
Pigs will stay clean if you let them.
They will designate an area for eating, sleeping and for waste. If they are indoors, leave a free space to be used for waste. In an outside pen, the pig will establish its own preferences.
Remove manure from the pen daily and keep it dry to reduce odours.
Consider your neighbours when planning the location of the pig house and manure storage area.
Keeping the manure storage area dry helps reduce odours. Cover the manure to keep out rain. Composted pig manure makes an excellent addition to garden soils.
Before you bring a pig home, prepared a place where it will be housed. Pigs need protection from the elements of weather. In warm weather, they need a dry place that is protected from the sun. In cold weather, pigs also need a dry place, free from the cold and wind.
Mind the size of the pen as pigs need enough space to move comfortably.
Young pigs need at 46 square feet per pig, and when they have reached market weight, they need 1,012 square feet of space each. Keep the pigs outside during warm weather.