Pig farmers gearing up for new chapter in production

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Staff Reporter

Windhoek – The future of pig farming once again comes under the spotlight at the Pig Producers Association Annual General Meeting [AGM] and information day this Thursday in Windhoek.

There are around 600 pig producers in Namibia, most of them having between three and 10 pigs. Namibia imported about 1,049 tonnes of pork last year, 38 percent less than the same period in 2016. The country could play a role to help feed an ever-growing hungry world in the near future, said Dr Albert Schutte of the Pig Improvement Company (PIC), the largest pig breeding company in the world, when he visited Namibia last year.

Throughout the three difficult years of livestock export drama for Namibian producers, the one sector that was never affected was pig farming because Namibia is not yet in a position to export pork. The introduction of a trial pig protection scheme has resulted in local producers now producing up to 70 percent of all pork in the Namibian market while the rest is imported mainly from South Africa.

This situation has proven again that pig farming has an immense growth potential in Namibia and farmers stand to benefit a great deal from the recent introduction of a Pork Market Share Promotion Scheme. The aim is to supply the Namibian market with 100 percent of locally produced pork and all indications are that many Namibian farmers have turned their focus to pig farming during the last three years of drought. Pig farming remains attractive because of the lower input costs, especially cheaper feeding costs for pigs.

Duncan Stephenson of Lionels Veterinary Suppliers in South Africa, who recently visited the country, reminded commercial producers of the importance to keep up with the latest technology regarding floor construction, heating and waste handling. He recommended that farmers on any level invest in pig feeders. He explained that South Africans consume less than 4kg of pork per person per year while in Germany people consume more than 53kg of pork every year.

Pig farming in Namibia is still very much a family set up. Whether it is in a remote communal area or on a more commercial scale, pig farming has traditionally stayed within the family or community. But things are changing fast and with the infant protection the industry is receiving in Namibia, pig farming is growing in all areas. It is now accepted that it is not economically viable to farm with less than 250 pigs in the commercial market.

The Namibian pig industry is still facing big challenges despite the protection it enjoys from the government. The Meat Board introduced the Pig Protection Scheme at the end of 2012 on a trial basis to promote and protect local pig producers. Through the scheme, the Meat Board worked out a formula for pork prices, which fluctuate on a monthly basis. There are about 600 pig producers in the country, while more than 500 of them are very small farmers, some even with only three to 10 pigs. Pig producers can be found all over the country but mostly in areas where there are plantations such as maize plantations on which pigs can be fed.

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