Pigs Helping to Move Families out of Poverty
Livelihood diversification is one of the most powerful tools in fighting hunger and poverty in Malawi. In the face of climate change, rainfall patterns have become unpredictable, so much so, that relying on crop production alone has proven to be a big risk. Rearing livestock is one of the best options for keeping the risks of poverty and hunger at a minimum.
Pig production has proven to be one of the most profitable opportunities afforded to farmers today. Pork is a good source of Vitamin B6, Phosphorus and a very good source of protein, thiamin (vitamin B1), niacin, which maintains the functioning of the nervous system and Selenium, an essential trace mineral which is an important part of antioxidant enzymes that protect cells. Additionally, pigs and their products generally attract good prices at the market.
Yohane Jumbe, 53, lives in Mwiniwanthu village in Lilongwe district, Malawi. He is married and has five children, three girls and two boys. In 2008, Yohane got extremely sick and was diagnosed with tuberculosis, making him chronically ill and unable to work on his farm. His wife and his youngest daughter were the only ones able to tend to their farm. Their harvest that year drastically dropped and could not last them until the next harvest. After finishing his tuberculosis treatment Yohane began to feel better but unfortunately, not as strong as he did prior to his illness.
In 2009, through a Farmers First project Yohane received two pigs, one male and one female of breeding age. The pigs bore six piglets. As part of the Farmers First program Yohane was asked to Pay it Forward. Yohane gave two piglets to another beneficiary and remained with four piglets, two male and two female.
“The first benefit I received from the pigs was manure. Pigs make good manure! I managed to establish a kitchen-garden just next to my house utilizing manure from the pig kraal. Here I grew vegetables like tomato , rape (the seeds are used in canola oil), amaranthus (a leafy vegetable which contains lysine, an essential amino acid), mustard and others. Vegetables are an equally important source of nutrients for my family. I harvested enough that I was able to sell some in order to get some income.” said Yohane.
“From the four piglets, I fattened one male and sold it. I kept the other pigs for breeding.” said Yohane. “When I sold that pig from my kraal I was able to buy fertilizer for my garden. I also used some of the money to hire laborers to help in cultivating my garden.“
“Pigs are a very profitable livestock. They have short generation interval, meaning they mature at a fast rate and they will eat almost anything edible. I would like to urge my fellow farmers to consider keeping livestock, especially pigs, on top of growing different crops in the field. When crops fail you can sell some of your livestock and buy food, pay school fees for your children, buy soap and other household essentials.“