News and updates on research on livestock value chains by the International Livestock Research Institute and partners

Thursday, January 13, 2011

New study calls for better training of local pig farmers in western Kenya to boost profits

Better marketing, improved access to credit, and training on good pig husbandry practices are among key interventions needed to boost the profitability of indigenous pig production in western Kenya, a new study reports.

Production of indigenous pigs is a popular enterprise among farmers in western Kenya because it is a low-risk venture with minimal input requirements in terms of space and feed. Smallholder households in this region typically keep one or two pigs that are either tethered or left free to scavenge.

The study published in the Nordic Journal of African Studies examined the beliefs and perceptions on local pig production among smallholder farmers in Kakamega District in western Kenya. The study also sought to establish the challenges the farmers face in production and marketing of their pigs, and possible avenues for improving pig husbandry and boosting farmer incomes.

Focus group discussions were held with four groups of 8-12 farmers each, as well as divisional staff working in livestock production, agriculture, health, adult education and social services.

Some of the constraints hampering the growth of indigenous pig farming include poor rural infrastructure, lack of local pork processing facilities, low levels of awareness among farmers on appropriate pig breeding methods, and religious beliefs surrounding consumption of pork.

The authors acknowledge that the challenges affecting the sector will need to be addressed first before any reasonable gains can be achieved.

“Future research needs to directly address the issues raised by the farmers and staff to enable the smallholder pig sector to thrive in this region of Kenya,” the paper concludes.

For example, training and extension tools for farmers will need to be revised to incorporate the different topics suggested by farmers and the staff so that training workshops better meet the needs of the participants.

The study was part of research by the lead author, Florence Mutua, towards a PhD degree in epidemiology from the University of Nairobi (awarded 2010). The paper’s co-authors are Samuel Arimi and William Ogara of the University of Nairobi, Cate Dewey of the University of Guelph and Esther Schelling of the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute.

Dr Mutua’s ILRI supervisor was Dr Thomas Randolph, agricultural economist and head of ILRI’s research team on smallholder competitiveness in changing markets.

Access the article

Mutua F, Arimi S, Ogara W, Dewey C and Schelling E. 2010. Farmer perceptions on indigenous pig farming in Kakamega District, Western Kenya. Nordic Journal of African Studies 19(1): 43–57.

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