University graduates reaping yields from pig farming
Anthony Njagi Njine with his two friends, Mary Wabuthu Gituku and Joseph Kariuki Sankale are startup farmers who rear pigs. A skill they picked up through self-training. The three, who are based in Gikambura, Kiambu County are also university graduates of finance, agriculture and engineering respectively.
After graduation, they set out to start their own business. Through their enterprise, Sanjawa Genesis Farms, the three are on a journey to mint shillings from rearing pigs and meeting the high demand for pork products in Kenya.
The enterprise intends to set up a huge farm for rearing pigs; a modern farm with concrete floors, ideal climate conditions to protect the pigs against extreme temperatures, rainfall, humidity and wind. They will also provide them with concentrated feed, high levels of care and necessary vaccinations.
For many decades, pork consumption in Kenya was minimal, primarily due to religious and cultural beliefs. However this has changed drastically, and it is reported that pork consumption is on the rise.
Urbanization and exponential population increase has put pork at par with chicken, beef and fish in popularity. Add to this the availability of mass-produced feed ingredients and an increasing number of educated and skilled pig farmers with sound appreciation of how to achieve profitable pig production, and you have a growing pork industry meeting increasing demand.
This change in consumer habits and the economic benefits of farming has opened up a whole world of opportunity for these three young entrepreneurs to pursue a new way of pig farming.
If you have eaten a slice of bacon, pork chop or pulled pork smothered in barbeque sauce, you have a connection to a pork farmer.
Many livestock farmers are of the older generation, but one interesting phenomenon becoming more apparent is the entry of young graduates, who are keen to acquire the skills for running profitable ventures.
“The pork value chain is large, from input production to farming to processing and marketing. There’s a lot of employment opportunities there and fortunately, the demand is increasing,” Njagi who is also the CEO of the enterprise stated.
He also noted that pig farming is not labor intensive and the farm only requires minimum maintenance. “The market is readily available. We have already signed two contracts with clients of whom we shall supply with the pigs once they are mature.”
Of importance to note is that pigs are fast growing and sows only take 6 months from conception to maturity.
The pig farmers observed that they are looking to purchase pregnant sows of a breed that is tough and adaptable to various climatic conditions and yields more piglets with proper breeding, good nutrition, appropriate housing and management of diseases and pests.
Members of Sanjawa Genesis Farm have also been trained on the basics of pig rearing from the pig farms they have visited around Kiambu.
However, the journey has not been without its share of challenges.
“Farming requires adequate working capital, this has greatly limited our venture,” Njagi explained. “We did not have the capital to purchase our initial breed as well as set up our farm.”
“We are really grateful for the partnership with KCIC and we look forward to achieving our goal by February 2021,” Njagi added.
Tips for young farmers
“Farming is just like any other business. First, you have to be involved in every deliberation made. In your business plan, you ought to outline aspects such as your vision, marketing plans, risks and how to manage them among others.
For us, we have been researching this space for two years as we had to make sure that we understood the field we are getting into,” Njagi said.
“For young people, farming gives us the freedom to pursue other things including school and still have a source of income,” he concluded.
By Pamela Okutoyi