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By Moses Kaketo
Numbers don’t lie. Uganda’s piggery sector has what it takes to get more Ugandans out of poverty with potential to turn farmers into billionaires.
The demand for pork and pork products has been on the rise over the last decade. Unfortunately, supply is not increasing.
According to the latest Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report, at 3.43kg, Uganda’s pork per capita consumption is the highest in sub- Saharan Africa, beating South Africa, though the latter produces more than we produce.
While prices of other types of meat have either remained stagnant or risen slightly, pork prices have for the last decade been rising from Ugx 3,000 per kilo and now, the price is determined by where you buy it from. In some places, (especially hotels), a kilo costs Ugx 30,000. On average, a kilo of pork around Kampala and its suburbs costs Ugx 8,000.
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According to Mrs. Joy Namukasa 40, a prominent farmer in Mukono district, it costs between Ugx 130,000 and Ugx 150,000 to raise a porker (pig for pork) in four months. She adds that such a pig can weigh up to 60kg which can fetch about Ugx 400,000.
Where is the market?
Pork is fast becoming a social meat as evidenced by the rising number of pork joints across the country. Statistics reveal that there more than 300 pork joints in Kampala alone. According to various pork owners we spoke too, at lunch time, people normally turn to butcheries for lunch and it is common for one person to take up to two kilos of pork – something uncommon with other meat.
Many people meet over pork in various joints across the country, says Charles Mulwana, a pork joint owner in Masaka town. He says bars without pork meat cannot survive in the business. Most patrons prefer pork to other meat.
The rising middle-class also presents enormous benefits to the sector. The middle-class demand processed pork and pork products. That is why a second farm opened recently to tap into a market that was initially dominated by Farmer’s Choice.
Chris Mulindwa, the marketing manager at Pig Production and Marketing, a company that was formed to promote the sector, says the demand for pork and pork products in Uganda is on the rise and unfortunately, the supply is way behind.
“Currently, we have capacity to buy up to 2,000 kilogrammes (about 50-60 pigs) every day. That is a goal we would want to have achieved yesterday.”
He adds that recently they received a proposal to supply 2,800kg per day; unfortunately, they are not sure whether they can meet this demand.
“We have, therefore, had to postpone signing the contract till we are sure we can get constant supplies.”
According to the deal, the investor needs 48,000 kilos of premium pork (pork without fats) per month and 36,000 kilogrammes of whole pork. This brings it to 84kg per month or about 2,000 kilos per day. That is about 40 to 50 well-breed pigs per day each weighing 60-65 kilos.
When this writer visited Wambizi, the only recognized and organized slaughter house in Uganda, owners told us that the demand far outweighs the supply and this has somewhat affected their business.
“On average, we slaughter 50 pigs a day, but sometimes we go up to 80 pigs depending on supply,” said one butcher.
Farmer’s Choice is already making a kill. They import processed pork products including sausages, bacon, etc from Kenya and their sales are on the rise. Reliable sources say the great sales have forced them to think of establishing a plant in Uganda.
However, the big supply problem remains an assured and constant flow of pigs.
Local market aside, our neighbours the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is one of the highest pork consumers in Africa. The DRC is said to be importing a lot of pork and pork products from Belgium. At five kilos per person per year, the Congolese market is an opportunity worth exploiting. This is an opportunity for Ugandan farmers and entrepreneurs to tap into.
However, the sector lacks organization and flow of information in the value chain. Statistics from ministry of Agriculture reveal there are more than 1.1 million household farmers rearing pigs, keeping pigs as a backyard activity, not as an economic activity. They keep one to two pigs. A pig takes eight to 12 months to mature.
The lack of a proper strategy in support of commercial farming has left the sector not exploited. Ugandans and Uganda government have not recognized the gold mine in the pig sector.
Dutch embassy, private investor to set up bow store
Pig production and marketing, in partnership with a foreign investor with support from Dutch embassy in Uganda are in advanced stages of setting up a bow stroke (store), a place where high-quality male breeds will be kept for semen collection and dispatch to famers.
“We have had several meetings and our proposal has already been approved. The first store will be constructed in October 2014. Among others, the project will see importation of high-quality breeds that weigh up to 150 kilogrammes.’’
According to Chris Mulindwa, these breeds have more advantages: they produce leaner pork, have higher food conversion ratios and thus giving good weight gain. This will give farmers value for money.
One of the challenges facing the farmers is poor-quality breeds which have made the sector look unprofitable.
“Imagine, a farmer looking after his pig for eight to ten months and he gets 20 kilogrammes. A friend from Belgium showed me a record on his farm. There was no pig carcass that weighed below 80 kilogrammes. Remember, it’s the same gestation period, but our friends are getting more,” he says.
“We are very anxious and given our extended network of farmers numbering over 600, we cannot wait to. We are ready to move the sector to the next level.”
Farming projects like these are good for small-scale farmers and the working-class alike. The challenge is effective management of the farm. Otherwise, the demand is very high. Government can make a big difference by providing a pig to each family and some training on how to multiply it with good farming practices.
In the end, the students will go to school on the proceeds from sale of the pigs. These are interventions that the Uganda Vision 2040 should not error on implementing.