A conference was organised by the Association for Promotion of Piggery in Nigeria (APPN) in Lagos to review smallholder pig value chain. It provided  an  opportunity to share testimonies of how the business has changed lives, DANIEL ESSIET, who attended the forum, reports.

As a young man growing up in the rural setting of Oyo town, Oyo State, Wale Adekoya knew that his future is in agribusiness. He had developed interest in farming since he was a boy. He had no formal training in raising pigs, but he was fortunate to have observed his father raising the animals. As a child, he had learnt how to feed pigs with inexpensive foods. But his plan to be a big farmer lacked one basic ingredient – the technical knowledge to ensure that the business thrived.

Never to be discouraged easily, he took up menial jobs  before he returned to piggery business. After having some positive experiences with using herbs, he started checking out medicinal herbs to see what they had to offer in treating pig’s ailments. He said the herbs  helped him effectively to deal with pig diseases.

Today, hard work, perseverance and a little luck have seen Adekoya turning a tiny enterprise of 10 pigs into a flourishing commercial operation with 300 pigs. Considering the fact that he started  with 10 pigs is quite an achievement. He is satisfied with raising pigs, and happy that his standard of living is changing for the better.

According to him, pig farming is helping many farmers to increase their income. He was one of the panelists at the conference and annual general meeting (AGM) ofAPPN in Lagos. His story is a testimony of how not giving up pays in the end.

Adekoya said  pigs’ pork is in huge demand, adding that a lot of people  have  approached him for different pig parts .  Though he has made a success of it, he still feels people do not respect the piggery business.

He said shortage of butchery skills is one of the challenges faced by the pig farming industry. Piggery farming, he said, proves to be lucrative, but it comes with several challenges.

Successful piggery farming, he said, is underpinned by having sufficient scale and market knowledge to produce healthy piglets cost-effectively, while still managing risks.

With this comes marketing. Currently, he  sells most of his pork directly to retailers, who buy in bulk from him on a weekly basis.

Also, Chairman, Board of Trustees, APPN, Olootu Dipo Shofowora said with less than 10 piglets, he  now owns a big piggery operation.

He maintained that  piggery, like poultry, should be  one of the areas that government should  prioritise as the base of meat industry, where more private operators  will be encouraged to invest money in a professional way.

For the private sector and people  interested in the sector, Shofowora, also the Chairman, First Crystal Integrated  Agriculture Limited,  said there are still many opportunities to be explored.

He added that the market for pork and piglets is still so big, requiring more investors to satisfy it. With hard work, he said anyone can start piggery business and be a success.

To achieve a good litter, he said one needs good selection of healthy and stress-free breeds. He explained that a pig’s gestation period is three months, three weeks and three days. This means that if one  wean after one month, the mother should move back to production cycle soon enough and, therefore, help one  achieve two litters a year.

Shofowora explained  that farmers, who  want to be successful commercial producers like him, need to receive intensive mentorship from established producers.

As part of mentorship programme, he said young farmers must learn to keep a close watch on the disease status of the units  where there is no veterinary doctors.

He said the main challenge new entrants is finding a way of converting basic, informal pig-keeping operations into profitable commercial enterprises.

This, he explained, is hampered by high initial capital costs and subsequent high maintenance and feed expenditure. Moreover, he stressed that pig  farmers need to look for new or alternative markets to increase the country’s per capita pork consumption if they wish to sustain profitability.

He said inadequate number of modern facilities such as  abattoirs, processing plants, feed makers and laboratories are some of the biggest challenges the sector faces.

He noted that reluctance of financial institutions to finance agriculture has affected piggery production and expansion efforts.

He added that cultural and religious beliefs also affect the growth of the sub-sector, pointing out that the cost of production is high because of high cost of pig feeds.

Head, Animal Production Department, Federal College of Animal Health and Production Technology, Ibadan, Oyo State, Dr Joseph Olupona, urged pig producers to work towards transforming the piggery sub-sector to a market-oriented one that creates value through  processing and value addition.

He explained that common constraints shared by many producers are numerous, from government policies, land acquisition issues, lack of infrastructure, funding, processing and storage facilities, and market linkage among others.

Lagos State government said  it  will do everything possible to support farmers to ensure abundant food production in the state.

Represented by the Head of Livestock services, Ministry of Agriculture, Babatunde Shonekan, the state government  said it has continued to intensify efforts in the agricultural areas where it has comparative ecological and socio-economic advantages.

He said despite its high industrialised status, population density and pressure on land for non-agricultural purposes, these areas, according to him, include fisheries, livestock as well as agro-processing with emphasis on value addition.

He stated that furtherance to the ministry’s effort to boost food production in the state, it has acquired 1000 hectares of land in Ogun State.

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