2 Who Is The Hardest Worker From Animal Farm Pig Farming in Uganda, Haraam or Hidden Pearl?

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Pig Farming in Uganda, Haraam or Hidden Pearl?

In considering this business for investment, one must be aware of religious sensitivities especially as about 12% of Uganda’s 35m population is Muslim. This is about 4.3m people and now quite important as it would almost be haraam (loosely means taboo or “forbidden” in Arabic) to start this business in a neighborhood which has a sizeable Muslim population, like say Mbale – me city ​​city

Although it is a matter of religion, we should remember that Matthew 7:6 says; “Do not cast your pearls to swine: if you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you apart.”

I recently invested in a 50/50 joint venture with a family friend to start a piggery project in Mbale. I have provided start-up working capital and those who provide land and building. I am not sure if I have spent my gems (ie money) as it has been over 1 month and there are no signs of progress of the project through photos or progress report. His phone is switched off and I have no other way to contact him.

He reminded me of another farmer friend I spoke to recently. Someone broke into his farm in Jinja and ran away with 3 old pigs, screaming and everything I thought. His bodyguard told him that he was drunk at the time, so he didn’t hear anything. I still believe that they (pigs) were stolen in connivance with security guards because; First of all, a full-grown pig weighs about 120 kg and secondly, they can make a noise of 130 dB. To put this into perspective, this is considered higher than the highest safe level for hearing (120 dB). Other sources compare the sound of a frightened pig to the sound level of an airplane i.e. 113 dB. Either way, that’s pretty high.

So it’s hard to understand how these 3 grown-up pigs were woken up with eyelids twitching, drunk or not.

The first ground rule in establishing this business in Uganda is to make sure you have reliable business partners or else you will lose your “precious stones” to pigs (literally).

There are other considerations that you need to look into before investing in this sector.

LEARN the cons

1. Feeding

Pigs are very large. A fully grown pig even one from the rear for commercial purposes will eat about 3.4kg a day. A growing person eats an average of 2.02 kg. If you are buying animal feed, which is mainly maize feed then the price will be very important especially given the steady rising maize prices in Uganda (due to droughts). You have two options to deal with this high cost:

  • Option 1Grow your own food ie corn and vegetables to feed them and supplement this with protein (say fish or soy meal).
  • Option 2: Make sure the farm is near a special boarding school and/or a hotel/restaurant so you can pay next to nothing for “Swill” i.e. leftovers like corn/corn meal (called ” Posho” in the local language) and beans from schools (maize and beans are essential food in boarding schools in Uganda and so readily available). You can then add maize and bean meal with leftover protein food such as chicken or beef to hotels/restaurants. Another alternative but cheap protein source is Dagaa/Omena fish (called “mukene” in local parlance). Pigs are after all omnivorous and will literally eat anything (don’t yet feed them rotting food).

2. Payment / Working capital

Like many jobs related to agriculture, especially in Uganda you need to have money in hand and preferably for at least 11 months (growing and gestation period for pigs) before you start making money from selling pigs. This is a particularly important consideration as there are no advanced credit card facilities and agricultural loans especially without security are hard to come by in Uganda.

3. Disease

Pigs are susceptible to many diseases and it is not uncommon for the government to quarantine entire areas following epidemics such as deadly African swine fever. It is therefore important that as part of the initiation you enter into a program with a veterinary practitioner who will be available for the scheduled vaccination program, routine checks and emergencies. The Government program under the NAADS plan can help in providing free medical services/subsidy, however I recommend the private program to ensure that often as civil servants sometimes in Uganda are not trusted.

4. Spring water.

Pigs do not have sweat glands and so to cool down, they need water (or “mud bath”). They also need water to clean their fields and feeding areas especially as their population increases – and quickly! Therefore, it is important to have plenty of water. So I recommend that you set up the farm near an easy water source like say a swamp or that you install a water tank to harvest rainwater. These are the cheapest and most effective options in Uganda compared to the complete water supply from the water supply company, NWSC.


1. Less intensive management.

As long as you invest in a good house that for example well separates the lactating sows from the rest, has separate feeding and sleeping areas and so on with a small land you can easily manage pig farming with workers few.

2. Profit due to demand.

Most sources believe that this sector is one of the most profitable businesses in animal agriculture especially as they require less intensive management compared to poultry or dairy farming. Profits in Uganda are driven by high demand for pork.

According to the Uganda Bureau of Statistics census in 2008 there were more than 3.1 million pigs. Considering the growth rates since then on the basis of economic growth (real GDP) which is about 7.2% in 2009, 5.20% in 2010 and 6.4% in 2011, then the number of pigs is estimated at 4.3 million in 2012 .This is also a. A very small number even when compared to chicken which for the same census was over 37 million in 2008 and therefore calculated (on the basis of the same GDP growth) to be 44 million in 2012.

I can expect that there will be a continued demand for pork and in time other related industries will develop for pork products such as sausages, bacon, gammon and the like even as the financial levels- income of the increasing population (developed by economic growth).

Based on the analysis of the model that I have developed, I summarize the profit for this sector as below:

Back on the Capital

  • Initial Capital (including working capital for 11 months) (A): Shs. 7,738,248
  • Annual profit (B): Shs. 2,681,086
  • Return on Investment/Capital (years to recover capital) (A/(B): 2.886 years.

*The game is calculated over a period of 14 months consisting of period 1 and period 2.

It should be noted that the original investment / start-up will continue to be recovered in the next 3 seasons as the pigs from season 1 and season 2 grow.

Final word

In light of the fairly quick return on investment, this is definitely a sector worth looking into.

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