The Sunday Mail
ZIMBABWE will soon import 230 high-yielding pig breeding stock from South Africa under a European Union funded Value Chain Alliance for Livestock Upgrading Empowerment (VALUE) project.
The move is expected to improve the country’s pork production.
Speaking at a media workshop on goat and pork value chains assessments in Bulawayo last Wednesday, Action Aid team leader Mr Newton Chari said 230 breeding stock of large white landrace and duroc, which include 200 gilts and 30 sows and boars grandparents, were sourced from one of the world’s leading international pig breeding companies, Danbred, in South Africa.
“We are bringing in new genetics from a reputable supplier in South Africa, Danbred. We are expecting these in the country in a few weeks. The supplier is a seasoned supplier who will also be providing the necessary after station services, which is required for the breed,” he said.
The VALUE project is a four-year programme, which will end in 2023.
lt is being run under the Zimbabwe Agricultural Growth Programme (ZAGP), with Action Aid Zimbabwe implementing it in partnership with COSV and Mercy Corps.
Private sector livestock players such as Shamiso and Bradford farms (pork value chain), as well as Michview and Zvikomborero farms (goat value chain) are also involved.
Mr Chari said the imported pig breeding stock will increase the chances of forming desirable qualities in the animals.
However, he was not at liberty to reveal the costs involved in importing the stock.
“We are looking at improving the food conversion ratio so that there is efficiency. You feed less to get more in terms of weight. We are also looking at improved disease management, adaptability and we are also looking at some traits, which are special in terms of the meat quality.
“We are also looking at good breeds, which can farrow (give birth) more, as opposed to getting nine to 10 piglets, which is the average with some of the genetics we currently have. We can increase that to 18-20 so that farmers are able to get more. In the discussion around commercialisation, sometimes it’s not necessarily about increasing the space, it’s about increasing productivity in the unit that the farmers are operating in. That is one of the programme’s essential targets,” he said.
The pig breeding stock will be raised at Shamiso (Mashonaland East Province) and Bradford (Mashonaland West Province) farms, which are the pork value chain integrators for the VALUE project.
Other pigs will be reared at the Pig Industry Board (PIB).
Mr Chari said the consortium of non-governmental organisations selected the Mashonaland East and West provinces as they are pork value chain corridors due to their access to feed. Already, there are high piggery activities in the two provinces.
“We are looking at areas around the corridors. The project is working in corridors. We can find the necessary structures of production there (Mashonaland East and West). One of the key costs in pork production is feed, which constitutes 80 percent.
“Within these two corridors, our farmers will be able to access the required raw materials. Maize constitutes 75 percent of alternative feed, soya as well. It is quite easier to access these within these two main corridors, which is why we have essentially zeroed in on them. We also looked at the fact that these areas have high volumes of pork. So it is easy to focus on commercialisation. Our thrust is not on food security or poverty eradication, but on organising farmers so that they commercialise in the process,” he said.
The project will also see the establishment of two region-specific Pork Production Business Syndicates in Mashonaland West and East, in partnership with PIB.
“This comes in as an essential marketing structure. The starting point is for our farmers to become organised. As soon as that happens, they begin to organise themselves. This will enable them to benefit more from some of the backward and forward logistics, which is essential in driving the pork value chain.
“The syndicate is bringing in all the farmers who have registered for the pork value chain,” said Mr Chari.
Hundred small to medium producers will be selected as primary members, with shareholding status and investments. Eighteen champion farmers, 40 anchor farmers and 400 small- to medium-scale farmers will be identified and trained. Support will also be offered to 600 women and young farmers.
Mr Chari said the project will go a long way in improving the country’s sow herd, which currently stands at just above 20 000.