Namibian Pork Industry Armed Technologically

Namibian small scale and communal farmers who are pig farming or who want to turn to the profitable industry were armed with all the latest technology, says Dr Andrew Tucker.

Dr Tucker was speaking at an Information Day of the Pig farming Association here last week. The renowned international consultant informed attendants on the mechanisms of starting up pig farming on small, medium or large scale. He told the audience that being competitive is everything in any business and urged all producers to regard their pig farming as such. He also stressed the importance of genetics when buying pigs, saying buyers must always look out for potential performers and animals in good health. “Health improves growing and growth is of the utmost importance for pigs. These animals are commercial athletes, growing about one kilogram per day and therefore need all their energy and not spend it on weak immune systems,” he noted.

There has been a tremendous increase in pig farming with more farmers showing interest after the recent introduction of a trial pig protection scheme. This has resulted in local producers now producing up to 70 percent of all pork in the Namibian market while the rest is imported mainly from South Africa. Regarding feeds, Tucker said the right rations are of critical importance, and so is housing and equipment. For commercial farmers, it is important to keep up with the latest technology regarding floor construction, heating and waste handling and recommended that farmers on any level invest in pig feeders. “Pig feeders have become the trend in Europe and it delivers huge returns. It reduces the number of labourers and it secures higher income for those involved,” he noted.

Tucker said the time has also come to implement new and effective waste systems for pig farmers. “Waste is black gold in countries like Germany where government subsidies pig farmers to handle waste management. Waste can be used as a fertiliser for maize fields and other crops and to grow grass that can be sold for handsome profits,” Tucker suggested.

“Pig farming in Namibia is still very much a family set up. Whether it is in a remote communal area or on a more commercial scale, pig farming has traditionally stayed within the family or community. But things are changing fast and with the infant protection the industry is receiving in Namibia, pig farming is growing in all areas,” he noted when explaining why it is not economically viable to farm with less than 250 pigs in the commercial market.

Tucker stressed the importance of farmers identifying markets for their animals and pay careful attention to their starting capital. He says for any pig farmer it is vitally important to decide before hand how much money is neede and where to loan as well as the loan terms. He says there is a place in the market for small scale farmers as they are in a position to supply a niche market. He also pointed out the aantages of a new trend of contract growing where a farmer basically rents out his farm and companies run the business and supply everything needed. This results in less capital input and an assured income for the farm owner.

It transpired at the information day that the Namibian pig industry is still facing big challenges despite the protection it enjoys from the government. It was also acknowledged as a very important industry for Namibian communal, emerging and commercial farmers, and that the pig industry has a big role to play in the agriculture sector as it is part of ensuring food security.

Chairperson of the Pig Producers Association, Flip de Villiers, pointed out that a dramatic increase from just supplying 23 percent last year, to now supplying 70 percent of all pork for the local market, was the direct result of the trial pig protection scheme. “The protection came at just the right time and it has resulted in especially small holder farmers and previously disaantaged people showing increasing interest in the industry. We now have members with just a few pigs but they are capable of producing pork for their communities and some of them have extended their supplying lines to outside their own villages to meet the demand in these areas. We have indeed made great strides in securing the Namibian pig farming industry and the future looks bright as long as we enjoy the protection that puts us on an even footing with cheaper imports from mainly South Africa,” he told Farmers Forum.

Rainer Rauch of 4Mix International addressed pig farmers on pig feeds, while Andrew Reeders from South Africa brought new insight to attendants regarding the genetics of pig farming. Namibia’s pork is of the highest standard and is g hormone-free, unlike the cheap imports from other sources. “We fought a long and hard battle to have such a high-quality product protected and now producers and the whole country is benefitting from this. The much-needed protection has resulted in the tremendous growth of the industry and of great importance is the expansion of the small scale farming pork industry.”

The Meat Board introduced the Pig Protection Scheme at the end of 2012 on a trial basis to promote and protect local pig producers. Through the scheme, the Meat Board worked out a formula for pork prices, which fluctuates on a monthly basis.There are about 600 pig producers in the country, while more than 500 of them are very small farmers, some even with only three to ten pigs. Pig producers can be found all over the country but mostly in areas where there are plantations such as maize plantations from where pigs can be fed. None of the pigs or pork produced locally are exported.

Source : New Era