The Pig Farming Business, How Africa Still Has So Much Potential to Grow In This Very Profitable Business
A suprising fact: Pork (pig meat) is actually the most widely consumed meat in the world,followed by poultry and beef.
The estimation of exchange of pig items around the world runs in the billions of dollars annually, but the African continent only enjoys less than 5 percent of this honey pot.
Suprising fact: China, with a fifth of the world’s population, is both the largest producer and net importer of pig products on the planet!
What makes the Pig market so profitable:
- piga cost little to sustain and keep up
- they produce much more meat than cattle, goats and sheep
Let’s talk numbers: Did you know that a single piglet(baby pig) which can be bought for $30-$50, when that same pig grows up in the next 6 – 8 months, its worth also rises up to $400.
A look at Some Successful Pig Farmers:
Even though pig farming is not yet as popular in Africa as it is around other parts of the world, a few African entrepreneurs are already enjoying the lucrative benefits of this enterprise.
Even with cultural and religious influences in parts of the African continent that play a role in limiting pork production and consumption, pig farming still manages to thrive and is growing across the West, East, Central and Southern parts of Africa.
Below are testimonies of some successful pig farmers in Kenya, South Africa and Uganda. Let’s meet them…
1. Anna Phosa – South Africa
Before hitting the limelight, Anna Phosa was an unknown entrepreneur who made a livelihood from her small vegetable farming business in Soweto. At a certain farmers networking meeting, she met Mr. Mohlabi, a pig farmer. After long discussions on pig farming, Anna picked up interest and decided to have her own pig farm.
With a capital of 1,000 rand (about $100) in 2004, she bought four piglets from Mr. Mohlabi with which she started her own small pig farm.
She acknowledged the fact that she had very little knowledge about pig farming and decided to learn more. Anna started reading books on pig framing and networked with other farmers through the help of the provincial department of agriculture.
She was really determined to succeed in this new business of hers.
Later that same year, Anna bought a boar for $70 and by the next year, the number of her pigs had increased significantly.
Anna began supplying meat to the market. The demands became so much that she had to leave her husband business and concentrate full time on pig farming.
In 2005, Anna approached Vereeniging Meat Packers and began supplying meat to the company.
Anna’s reputation in the pork business grew so that in 2008, Anna was contacted by Pick ‘n Pay, the South African supermarket and retail giant to supply its stores with 10 pigs per week.
Satisfied with her mode of delivery and business ethics, the company increased the demand to 20 pigs every week.
In 2010, Anna signed a breathtaking contract with Pick ‘n Pay to supply 100 pigs over the next five years under a 25 million Rand deal (that’s nearly 2.5 million US Dollars!)
With a contract in hand, Anna received funding from Pick n Pay Ackerman foundation, ABSA Bank(12.5million rand and 2 million rand to get the piggery up and running) and USAID to buy a 350-hectare farm property.
From just four pigs, her new farm now holds nearly 4,000 pigs at a time and supplies roughly 100 to 120 pigs a week to retailers in South Africa.
Anna currently employs about 20 staff and has become something of a celebrity pig farmer on the African continent!
Lack of funding is often the downfall for many, but lack of access to market is a bigger obstacle to face. Once one is able to find a market, a person to sell the goods to, the funds needed are then able to be obtained a bit easier according to Sisa Ntshona(Head,Enterprise Development at ABSA). “Throwing money at the problem doesn’t necessarily fix it, but the collaboration of finding a market, of finding technical skills(ability to run a business, revenue skills, profit, cash flow etc), lack of these is where the business falls apart, because of inability to rise from the business perspective,” said Ntshona.
Anna Phosa has gone on to win the “department of agriculture female farmer owner of the year award” twice.
Anna Phosa’s advice to small scale farmers: “It is good to start small, and as you continue to learn, step by step you will get to where you want to be, because farming is not an over night thing, it is not quick cash, it takes a bit of a long time just like any other business to establish it. Farming is about turning volumes, it took me more time to be where i am now because i was producing on a small scale, so i was unable to move as fast as i wanted to. But if you have the passion, and are willing to get into farming, you must be patient and you must be prepared to be hands on in whatever it is that you are doing, because farming is not about sitting and watching. You need to dirty your hands, you need to be there with your workers, to see if they are doing the right thing at the right time, you cant remote control it.”
2. Mr Ronald Omondi – Kenya
Mr Ronald Omondi is a security supervisor at a hotel in Qatar, but back home in Kolenyo, he rears rabbits, pigs and has a hydroponics project to supplement the animal fodder.
Mr Ronald Omondi credits his pig-rearing ideas and skills to vast research over the internet.
“I have not gone for any training on pig rearing, all the information on rearing pigs is on the internet. I went to YouTube and watched people who have piggeries in Kenya. I came across Clare Omanga in Nyamira who sold 40 pigs for over Sh1 million(about $9,790.00 USD),” he says.
Omondi’s entrepreneurial spirit was ignited when he partnered with his aunt, Eunice Atieno, who lives in the US, to start the agriculture business project as a source of employment, income and education for the extended family at home.
“We decided we would start a model farm and employ family members at first. When it picks up, we can give them each a pig to rear. This is in an effort to eradicate poverty.”
Omondi started off with 20 piglets. He raised and fattened them for three months before selling them. A pig can give a farmer between nine to 16 piglets.
“We spent Sh1.8 million(about $17,612 USD)to construct the pig sty,” he says. “We plan to have two buildings. The other one can host 60 pigs. When the second building is complete, it will host 140 to 150 pigs. I will be doing three-month cycles of fattening the pigs and selling them as others grow,” he says.
The father of two says he has nine pens in total in the piggery. One is meant for the males that serve the sows(female pigs).
He also has a tracker pasted on every pen that keeps essential records and information of the pigs. The tracker has information on the date of arrival of the pigs, their age, medication and the date set for them to leave the pen for sale.
“A fully grown pig eats 3kg of grain in a day. One has to consider the age so that you don’t overfeed them. 1- 2 month-old pigs consume 1kg of dry matter in a day while two to four month-old pigs take 2kg.”
The farmer keeps the landrace breed, which grow fast and are resistant to disease.
The pigs eat almost anything and rarely fall sick, hence the cost of maintaining them is relatively low.
“After consulting a nutritionists, I learned that pig finishes are good when you are fattening them and just about to market them.
“I purchase my own feed and mix them. Normally I buy wheat pollard, wheat bran, bread crumbs, fish mill (ground dagaa) and limestone for calcium,” says the farmer.
“The feed for 50 pigs will cost me around Sh120,000(about $1,174.18 USD) per month; that is dry matter, hydroponics and cabbages. I purchase cabbage from the market at Sh100 (about $1 )per 90kg sack.”
“We wake at 7am, clean the piggery then we give them food between 9am and 5pm when we sweep the pens and feed them again at 6pm,” he says.
“We give them medication after every two weeks, deworm them and give them some antibiotics. We spray the piggery after two weeks against ticks and other insects.”
“Pigs hate stress. Any abrupt noise can be a source of stress which leads to loss of weight.”
“People have not realised that pigs can be very profitable because they grow quickly and don’t have high demands.”
Omondi sells the animals to buyers in Nairobi and sometimes in Kisumu, and the returns are handsome.
Omondi’s advice: “For you to realise good returns from pigs, you should sell in bulk. Our target is to sell 40 to 50 pigs after every three months. One piglet costs about Sh4,000(about $40 USD), it matures within six months and sells at between Sh25,000(about $245 USD) and Sh40,000(about $391 USD),” says Omondi.
He feeds the pigs on hydroponics plants(young tender grass grown from a cereal grain mostly barley, in just 5-7 days) that are nutritious and make the pig lean. “A lean pig will fetch you more cash than one with plenty of fat.”
Normally a pig has 14mm of fat in its body. If you feed them 60 percent hydroponics and 40 percent dry matter, the fat level drops half.
“A lean pig will fetch you Sh300(about $3 USD) per kg and above depending on the market, unlike a pig with 14mm of fat that will fetch you Sh230(about $2.3 USD – Sh280 (about $2.7 USD),”
“I sell the big pigs at Waiyaki Farms in Nairobi, who buy the pork at Sh280(about $2.7 USD) per kg. If I subtract the expenditure on feeds, staff and transportation, I remain with Sh500,000(about $4,892USD) from the sale of 50 pigs. I can only realize this if I sell in bulk.”
“I wish the youth would change their minds on white-collar jobs and embrace the agriculture business. I would not have realised the returns of farming if I had not embraced it,” he concludes.
3. Martin Gachuma – Kenya
Martin Gachuma is not looking for a job now, but even if he were to be hired, he says he can only accept the position of pig breeding consultant and not any other position.
Gachuma is the owner of “Kenge Farm” in Muchata, Kiambu County. His successful business has become a case study for aspiring farmers.
Mr Gachuma abandoned his banking career in 1995 to venture into pig farming. At the time, he was a financial manager with the Standard Chartered Bank. Today, he has no doubts that he will remain a pig farmer for life.
According to him, the returns in this occupation range between 30 – 40 percent of capital invested. And the money starts flowing in after a maximum of six months.
For those interested in the business he says the ideal starting stock is 5 sows(female pigs) and a boar(male pig).
“That one sow will birth between 10 – 12 piglets. This means after four months – which is the gestation period for a sow – the farmer will have a minimum of 50 additional stock,”he says. A sow will birth twice a year to further increase that stock to a minimum of 100.
Mr Gachuma is very confident that pig farming is a profitable business with high demand and good prices.
“If you just feed them properly to minimize the snorting noise that pigs make when hungry and manage them hygienically to eradicate the foul smell associated with the venture, you are home and dry,” he advises would-be farmers.
“A pig’s feeding habit is very economical. From birth to market, one pig at the current rate of commercial feeds will consume Sh25(about $0.2 USD) per day,” he says.
If pig breeders want to maximize returns, they have to form small cooperative societies which will pursue best breeding practices as well as increase productivity for effective market penetration.
“That way, we can have drastically lowered operation costs for better returns,” he says.
Currently, a reliable pig breed for a start-up is retailing at Sh30,000(about $295 USD) translating into a starting capital of Sh 180,000(about $1,761 USD) for six pigs. Other related costs including building a structure for the pigs to live in can be done using locally-available material.
“For a struggling starter,” Mr Gachuma says, “You can reduce that starting breed too one served sow, which will only stretch the time to starting enjoying average benefits”.
Today, thanks to his savings and credit, Mr Gachuma has 200 pigs in his stock.
In good times, he increases that to 500 but reduces them according to demand in the market
“Pig proceeds provide for us, and there is no doubt in my mind that my future financial stability is in the same agriculture business,” Mr Gachuma says.
As evidence of his sucess, Mr Gachuma was judged the best pig breeder during the 2011 Nairobi Trade fair.
Today he sells on average 15 – 20 mature pigs to Farmers Choice Company Limited every month. “One pig to the time of selling it in the market has attained a minimum of 70 kilograms(kg) as the net weight for the market. Market price per kilograms(kg) is Sh195(about $2 USD),” he says and invites would-be breeders to do the math.
According to Gachuma, the pig market is under-supplied and there is an inexhaustibable business opportuinity in it.
“The question is not where the market is. The question is where the pigs are.”
From his own research, the big five export markets for pork are:
- European Union
- United States
in that order.
Locally, Farmers Choice has been holding seminars to educate farmers that there is a ready market for pork products in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Tanzania, Uganda, Nigeria and India.
Pork is one of the most widely favored meats in the world, accounting for about 38 percent of meat production worldwide.
A good start, Mr Gachuma says, would be for the government to develop a pig breeding policy that will see farmers benefit from structured marketing and also set quality standards.
4. Rachel Mubiru – Uganda
Rachel Mubiru was tired of being a jobless housewife with no income. The trials of lacking an income are what drove her to venture into commercial farming.
Today, she is practicing piggery and poultry farming, ventures that have turned her into a millionaire.
Mubiru, a resident of Nateete in Rubaga division, started poultry farming in 1995 with 100 broilers.
Although she faced a lot of challenges, she grew the stock up to 800 in two years before turning to piggery.
“My biggest dream was in poultry, but I later found out that piggery was more lucrative,” she says.
Mubiru says she started piggery with local breeds but acquired exotic breeds after she watched President Yoweri Museveni on television encouraging farmers to turn to modern farming.
The President argued that it made more sense to keep two exotic cows that can produce 40 litres of milk per day than keeping 40 local cows which produce only one litre per day.
“I knew the President’s example also applied to piggery, so I started looking for exotic breeds,” Mubiru says.
She adds that she contacted Tom Kayongo, the former Rubaga North MP, who introduced her to the Government Livestock Centre in Entebbe where she acquired exotic pigs.
Since then, Mubiru says, she has been rearing improved breeds like the Landrace, Cambrough and Largewhite, all originating from South Africa.
Mubiru also breeds exotic pigs and sells piglets to other farmers all year round.
“I have maintained a parent stock of 10 pigs,” she says, adding that each pig can produce 24 to 30 piglets every year.
“I sell each piglet at sh100,000(about $978 USD). I used to sell mature local breeds between sh100,000 and sh150,000(about $1,468 USD) after feeding them for over seven months. It is unbelievable that I can earn the same amount from a piglet. This is indicative of how high modern farming can uplift society.”
Mubiru adds that although exotic pigs consume about 20% more food than local breeds, the heaviest can weigh up to 300kg compared to 100kg, the maximum weight for local breeds.
A kilogram of pork costs between sh6,000(about $59 USD) and sh8500(about $83 USD), depending on the point of sale.
Mubiru says she has been able to use the proceeds from her venture to educate her children, some of whom are already graduates.
“Whereas many people, including cabinet ministers, have never had a chance of hosting President Museveni in their homes, the President toured my farm last year while promoting the Prosperity-for-All programme,” she says.
According to the 2008 national livestock population census, there are only three million pigs in the country, compared to 11 million cows and 12 million goats. However, the number of pigs reared by Ugandans has been rising gradually.
The report says about 20% of households in Uganda owned pigs as of 2008.
This constitutes 18% of the entire national population.
Mubiru says although looking after exotic breeds is more labour intensive and needs a lot of attention in terms of feeding and medical care, the challenges are offset by the huge financial benefits.
She says the pigs are mainly fed on maize brand, but can also be fed on potato and cassava leaves and matooke (banana) peelings.
The current scarcity of poultry feeds as a result of the expensive maize has not spared Mubiru.
She says her five-month-old 300 layers should be producing eggs by now but have not because of poor feeding.
She said the price of a 100kg bag of maize brand had increased from sh50,000(about $489 USD) to sh130,000(about $1,272 USD) in the last five months.
However, Mubiru says she is still optimistic that she will continue developing through modern livestock farming.
She says her dream is to become a consultant in modern farming and community development.
Supplementing livestock farming with a business in outside catering, Mubiru has assisted many people out of poverty.
The main beneficiaries are the members of Finca Women Group in Nateete, a community development organisation.
“I attribute my success to our Lungujja-Wakaliga Kwagalana Women Group, a community-based development organisation that has nurtured the spirit of working together, and Rubaga division council for organising farmers’ training programmes,” she says.
Deleen Powell – Jamaica
Is a public relations officer at the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA). But the pretty, well-spoken, 30-year-old university graduate is also a farmer with a drove of 40 pigs she calls her biggest priority.
She has no intention of giving up her nine-to-five, but the farming venture fulfils some important needs, not least of which is the provision of a second income stream.
On weekends she travels to St Elizabeth to care for her pigs.
“I don’t have any children. These pigs are my babies. They are my primary concern right now. I go to bed thinking about them at night, and they are the first thing I think about when I wake in the mornings,” Powell confesses.
It has been just under two years since she and an overseas business partner set up the farming operation in the rural St Elizabeth community of Brae’s River.
Powell said she settled on pig-rearing because she realised, after much research, that there is a lucrative market for pork in Jamaica.
“I must say, we don’t have any training in agricultural sciences, so a lot of the information we got was from research online and speaking to people in the industry. Speaking to these people, we realised that a lot of the other areas of farming were very saturated, such as chicken farming. Through our research, we also found that there is always a market for pork and pork products in Jamaica. In addition, we can also generate energy from the pig waste; so it was a win-win situation,” she explained.
That she is thinking of waste-to-energy is no surprise, for the four-acre farm uses solar power and is completely off the grid. It is also a study in water conservation as the operation is served by a stream which runs through the property.
Speaking to the ease of accessing start-up capital, Powell said she was spared the hassle and interests associated with loans.
“Thankfully, we did not have to take a loan. I think if we had to borrow the money, it would have been much more difficult. To get started, it was life savings. I may look pretty young, but it was savings. It was all savings; returns from investments that had been made, in terms of stocks and bonds and other investments. It is, even up to now, salaries; all personal financing. So we are on a very tight budget,” she noted, alluding to the sacrifices she makes in the pursuit of the project.
Powell says much of her success is owed to the support from the CB group. She explained that she purchased her first four inseminated sows from Newport Genetics. Since the purchase, the company has been very helpful in assisting her to maintain the animals.
“Big up NutraMix, Copperwood, Newport Genetics; the entire CB group!” she said.
The animals should be ready for sale by the end of this month, since they will be at market weight, which is about 220 pounds. The good news? She already has a market in the form of the CB group.
4 Reasons why entrepreneurs should consider the pig farming business in Africa
- #1 – Consumption of pork products is already growing across Africa! Urbanisation and economic growth is leading to the increasing presence of international and local fast food restaurants across our continent.
- #2 – Pigs multiply really fast! One of the reasons why pig farming is very lucrative is that pigs multiply really fast. One sow (mature female pig) can furrow (give birth to) between 8 and 18 piglets at a time. The gestation (pregnancy) period for pigs is just four months and sows can furrow up to two times a year. This means that one sow, which costs about $400, can produce up to 16 – 36 piglets in a single year. These piglets which reach a market size of 70 kg in six to seven months can sell for up to $300 each!
- #3 – Pigs are highly adaptable and easy to farm. According to one of our recommended manuals, pigs have over 15,000 taste buds (humans have just about 9,000). This enables them to eat everything humans eat and other stuff like grass, forage and feed eaten by other animals. Considering the high and rising cost of grains and concentrates used to produce animal and livestock feeds, the ability of pigs to consume a wide variety of foods increases its profit potential as a business. Since they are able to recycle most materials (which they eat and convert to meat), pigs help farmers to largely reduce feeding costs and waste.
- #4- Pigs yield more meat…Unlike cattle, sheep and goats which produce between 50 and 55 percent meat from their bodies, pigs can yield up to 70 percent edible meat because they have a much smaller proportion of bones than meat.