Pig farming is one of the most undermined and despised farming sectors in the Agriculture industry. The public often develop a wrong and negative impression about pigs mainly because they have not taken their time to learn about this valuable animal. They are usually seen as dirty and smelling animals that cannot play a pivotal role in transforming the life of an individual. Even though this is the case, there is a handful of individual who have had a veil removed from their eyes or faces and have embraced pig farming as a means of survival.
Emmanuel Motlhagodi and his life partner Bonolo Shango are among the few people who have come to the realization that contrary to many people’s misconception about pigs, they are in actual fact valuable animals. Motlhagodi and Shango whose farm is based in Kanye, told Farmer’s Magazine Botswana in an interview that they started their project two years ago (2015) after an interaction with one of the pig breeders in Mochudi. Motlhagodi revealed that the quality of the pigs caught his attention and captivated him to go into pig farming. It was then that the two did not delay in buying two landrace breed pigs, 1 male and 1 female.
However, it is worth noting that before the two finally decided to set up their own pig enterprise, they had to do their own further research on pig production. They got some of the information from the gentleman they bought their animals from. Although it was the two’s desire to go for training before setting up their pig unit, their efforts have been futile. Motlhagodi said that they have not given up yet as they continuously engage with relevant authorities to help them go for training and by the look of things, it is promising that their desire will eventually be fulfilled or granted in the near future.
Meanwhile, the two like many farmers were off to a rough start. The challenges they immediately encountered after setting up their own pig unit or enterprise was that of high cost of feeds. However, through their dedication and commitment in their project they kept on soldiering on even until now they are still holding on. The heavy rains that were brought about by cyclone dineo relieved them the burden of costly feeds as the harvest was good and this has ultimately helped in feed costs depreciating. Another challenge they faced was that of lack of funds to be able to build a proper structure for their animals. Motlhagodi however, said that they are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel and they are optimistic that they will be able to finally build the desired structure for their animals.
Motlhagodi related to this publication that setting up a pig enterprise is not a complex matter, it just needs passion, commitment, hard work and good management practices. He said that the first thing to consider before starting the production is water, proper feeds and land with good structures. He said that if these basic requirements are met the farmer will reap the fruits of his labour. He revealed that pigs use a lot of water, adding that the main reason why they drink a lot of water is because they use it to keep themselves cool. The farmer has to also make sure that the structure erected or built has shade to protect the animals from unfavourable weather conditions such as the sun’s heat, rain and cold.
When speaking about the way they manage or operate their production, Motlhagodi said that they make sure that the animals have as much water as they need (clean water). He further said that the second thing that they ensure is that the pigs have enough food, not more and not less. He revealed that if pigs have less feed (less than 1.5kg) than they require their production will automatically will decrease and if they are overfed (more than 2kg) they will have more fat. Motlhagodi said that they further ensure that their females give birth during summer because during winter seasons the piglets often die as a result of extreme cold. When the animals gives birth, Motlhagodi makes sure that he is present so that if he acts accordingly when necessary, and also to make sure that the mother does not step on the piglets. He further said that they ensure that their animals are always clean.
Relating some of the major challenges they still face is that although the market is good with demand high (Senn Foods, Butcheries etc) individual buyers usually like to bargain the price. Motlhagodi said that people usually want to get the animals at a cheaper price. He said in terms of diseases if proper vaccination program is followed all be good. He however, argued that animals should be given proper attention as this will make it easier for the farmer to notice any abnormalities in his animals. The other challenge is the failure to be able to meet the market demands as they produce less than what the market needs. He attributed the failure to lack of funds to expand their production.
The total number of Motlhagodi and Shango’s pigs stands at 11 pigs (10 females and 1 Boar) and 20 piglets. According to Motlhagodi their intention is to have at least 50 breeding females at the end of the year. FMB