Experts use technology to improve pig farming

Saturday February 27 2021
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Pigs at a farm. The market for pork processing has grown significantly in Uganda. File photo

By Arthur Arnold Wadero

A team of private sector players has embraced a technology platform to improve and make pig farming more profitable. 

The Smart Pig Platform that can be accessed on smart mobile phones will help centralise data on animal health, disease identification, management, and control for easy coordination among farmers.

Mr Ben Lukuyu, the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRIS) country director, on Thursday, said the decision to use technology was based on an initial study conducted in Mukono, Masaka, Lira, Hoima, and Kamuli districts in 2017.

He added that the study focused on how to help farmers identify gaps, opportunities, and mooted interventions in animal health, feeding, genetics, and environmental-related issues.

“So when the first phase ended in 2017, we did a baseline study and found that farmers’ knowledge had greatly improved due to heavy training and awareness,” Mr Lukuyu said.

It is upon this, that the leadership of the ILRIS has under the second research phase advocated the use of technology. 

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“The main issue is that farmers are not reaping maximum profits from their pigs. 
There is limited trust between farmers and traders. Buyers don’t weigh pigs before purchasing, they just estimate,” Mr Lukuyu said.

Interventions
Among the applications to be used include the Agric-tech talk which has a gross margin calculator to analyse feeds to enable farmers to compute what has been invested against gross yield and therefore establish their profits. 

The feed calculator will also enable farmers to balance feeds to guarantee quality weight demanded on the market.

But Prof Donald Kugonza, an advocate of the technology app, argues that a number of farmers may not have access to smartphones or tech-smart.

“Because some farmers may not be able to use smartphones, we are training village-based agents to do formulations for them. We have trained four health champions we sent to Swedish Agricultural University n in the areas of health,” Prof Kugonza said.

The researchers are also popularising artificial insemination to improve quality output and ensure constant supply to meet demand.

 In addition, they have advised pig farmers to focus more on the Camborough and large white breeds, arguing that they attract high demand because of their lean meat.

Key
The Smart Pig Platform that can be accessed on smart mobile phones will help centralise data on animal health, disease identification, management, and control for easy coordination.

editorial@ug.nationmedia.com

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