Geoffrey Ojok | September 17, 2018
It’s about eleven o’clock, and the bright morning sunshine hits the makeshift pig enclosure hard. The pigs and piglets inside squeal and snort, telling Alfred Mwiru that their feed has run out. Hearing their cries, the 47-year-old farmer cheerfully brings the feed and stands at a distance scrutinizing his healthy-looking pigs.
Mr. Mwiru lives in Bujagali village in Buikwe district, about 80 kilometres from Kampala, the capital city of Uganda. He started rearing pigs soon after the death of his wife in 2015.
His late wife was a vendor and the family breadwinner. Mr. Mwiru explains: “I couldn’t vend as my late wife did. With the little money I had, I bought three piglets. Since I had no money to buy feed, I kept on feeding them residues from locally-brewed beer.”
Today, Mr. Mwiru is happy because, over the past two years, he has learned how to make homemade feed that keeps his pigs healthy. He no longer worries about spending money on expensive food for his animals.
To make the feed, he mixes the peels of crops like sweet potatoes, bananas, and cassava with the residues from a local beer called malwa, which is brewed from millet.
With this homemade feed, the pigs are healthy and appear to be safe from the swine fever that is affecting many pigs in the area.
Susan Akany is the livestock nutrition specialist in Buikwe district. She says, “Malwa, a locally-made brew, is not harmful to health, but instead it’s nutritious since its [main] component is millet that contains no chemicals.”
Dr. Richard Byandala is the veterinary officer in the area. He adds, “Malwa residues are good for animal health because the locally-made beer is fermented millet that is rich in food nutrients.”
Mr. Mwiru doesn’t use veterinary vaccinations to protect his pigs from diseases. But Dr. Byandala says that pig farmers should closely monitor their animals’ health and hygiene. He adds, “Livestock farmers ought to treat their animals regularly and seek advice from trained people to avoid swine fever.”
Patrick Obuya is a schoolteacher and pig farmer from the nearby village of Naminya. His income has doubled since he began pig farming. He explains, “I have experienced better income in piggery. Pigs eat a variety of foods unlike other animals, and above all, they grow faster.”
According to Mr. Mwiru, farmers can sell a kilogram of pork in his area for 18,000 Ugandan shillings [about $4.75 US], and sell a mature live pig for between $180-200 US.
With the income from pig farming, Mr. Mwiru has improved his living standard and is now able to support his four children. He says: “I sold three mature pigs in January this year and earned $540 US which I used to buy a cow, which has now reproduced. I sell milk on a daily basis. This has enabled me to earn money for school fees and food.”