Uganda: HIV-positive widow raises pigs to improve income and health

November 27, 2017
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Aida Among tested positive for HIV in 2001. Shortly after, the farmer was widowed when her husband was killed by the Lord’s Resistance Army.

Mrs. Among is a farmer from Njeru, a village in the Buikwe district of central Uganda. After her husband’s death, she tried to make a living by growing beans, maize, cassava, and vegetables. But the market was oversupplied and she was unable to earn much.

In 2011, her situation changed. Uganda’s National Agricultural Advisory Services, or NAADS, introduced a new program to her village. Mrs. Kintu is the local NAADS chairperson. She introduced Mrs. Among and other HIV-positive farmers to James Byarugaba, a NAADS program officer.

Mr. Byarugaba trained HIV-positive farmers to raise animals and grow crops. Mrs. Among chose to raise pigs. She explains, “I had enough space to keep pigs. In addition, pigs grow fast and pork sells for 10,000 shillings a kilo [about US$3.90 at the time] in town.”

When NAADS distributed the first batch of pigs in 2011, Mrs. Among was among the 10 beneficiaries in her village. Each farmer received one pig. Mrs. Kintu says, “Our first priority was to cover HIV-positive people; the rest shall benefit later.”

In November 2011, Mrs. Among mated her sow with a neighbour’s boar, and the sow produced ten piglets. She sold five for 50,000 Ugandan shillings (US$18) each. Mrs. Among also gave one of the piglets to another family, as a requirement of the NAADS project. The piglet was the first to be passed on in the village, and the act generated local excitement and enthusiasm.

Mrs. Among says that pig farming is a new start for her. She explains, “The piglets I sold really changed my life. I was able to plaster my three-room house that my late husband left dilapidated.” She added a cement floor, and hopes soon to connect the house to the electrical supply.

Tonny Rugyendo is a 56-year-old farmer who also benefited from the NAADS program. He says, “I couldn’t afford to buy a plot for vegetables. But the pig I got gave me five piglets. I am now paying fees for my two boys in secondary schools.”

In February 2013, Mrs. Among’s pigs produced another 21 piglets. She sold 18 to local farmers who admired her “large white” breed, earning US$330 from the sales.

Muwereza Patrick is a butcher in Bukaya market, and he praises her pigs. He says, “I now buy pigs from Mrs. Among’s home … her pigs are heavier than those I used to buy.”

Mrs. Among now has 24 pigs. Mr. Byarugaba says, “We have seen a good return on the pig project. Members … are benefiting more than vegetable growers because last season was dry.”

Mrs. Among says: “In addition to completing my house, I bought a dairy cow in March this year which also produced a calf this April … I am able to collect between 10 and 13 litres of milk a day.” She sells 10 litres in the nearby Njeru trading centre for 12,000 shillings (US$4.60), and uses the surplus milk at home.

Her income from the pigs, combined with that from selling milk, has improved her life. Her diet has improved because she keeps some milk for herself. She believes that her successes have improved her health.

She says: “I am not worried about my health and future. I have enough food for the family besides the daily income I get from the sale of milk. My daughter is studying well and I am able to pay her fees to university level.”

This story was originally published in July 2013.