Gulu Opportunistic Pig Farmers Under Attack

GULU – Across northern Uganda, Marcelo Peter Okwonga is pitching a switch to a more sustainable pig farming model to get rid of the many opportunistic small holder farmers.

Interviewed recently in Gulu City, Okwonga, the chairman of Northern Uganda Pig Farmers Cooperative Society, said, “One can actually close a pig farm by walking in and buying all the pigs. This happens because of lack of sustainability and management plans.”

“Most of the small holder farmers we have in the region are opportunists who keep one or two pigs to sell off when prices are high,” he added.

He said using the 60 member cooperative, spread out across the districts of Kitgum, Pader, Amuru, Lira, Omoro, Gulu, Nwoya, Oyam and Adjumani, they are working to dump the opportunistic model.

“We are foreseeing that when farmers come together, we can make sustainable production. We are looking at producing high quality and quantity. When we have this in place, we will then look at producing branded products like live pigs at the required weight, slaughtering and selling processed products like bacon, sausage and pork chops,” he said.

Okwonga said the cooperative recently purchased 11 Holland improved pigs from a breeder in Mpigi, which they are multiplying on his farm in Akurukwe, Amuru District.

He said that in eight months, they will have 160 pigs and will be accessible to members.

Okwonga also noted that many of the households engaged in piggery in the region do not mind about quality.

“We want people engaged in piggery to do it sustainably and be motivated to invest in the pig industry,” he said.

Alice Oyuku, a small-scale pig farmer in Pece-Laroo Division, Gulu City, said she keeps pigs mainly to sustain her family.

“I have taken care of my five children using these pigs. Buyers especially pork dealers know me so they come to my home and buy, I don’t have to look for the market,” she said.

Oyuku keeps about five pigs at a time and usually sells off piglets to ease the pressure on her small Sty.

Josephine Adiyo, a pig breeder in Aywer cell in Pece-Laroo Division, Gulu City, said, “Ready-made feeds are very expensive on the market and when I resort to making my own, I usually end up missing out something because I don’t know the formula.”

Adiyo, who also doubles as the treasurer of Northern Uganda Pig Farmers Cooperative Society, said most pig buyers are interested in mature pigs, which they sell off as pork.

“Last year, I was forced to castrate my piglets because there was no market yet they were growing and needed more feeds and space. Before Covid-19, there was ready market for piglets,” she said.

Adiyo however, wants to start large scale pig breeding once the market becomes stable.

“Right now, I produce about 40 piglets every half a year but I want to be able to produce 200 every year,” she said.

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