TWENTY-TWO year old Paulus Nakapata is a man on a mission. As a novice pig farmer, he has a long way to go in ensuring his business stands the test of time. However, if his motivation and drive is anything to go by, it is only a matter of time before he runs with the ‘herd’ of those successful in the trade.
Paulus, despite being a full-time third-year student at the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST), has taken on part-time pig farming to supplement his income.
His business, Ehao Pig Farm, is located at Etunda Village in the Omusati region – some six kilometres from Okahao. Paulus believes the adage ‘Do not put all your eggs in one basket’ has some conventional wisdom in it.
As such, Paulus said he decided to venture into pig farming as a fall back plan if he does not secure employment right after graduation.
“I have seen a lot of graduates sitting at home and languishing in poverty because there are no job openings for them. As such, it was a choice I had to make to ensure I do not suffer the same feat. This pig business will sustain me during that time,” he said.
Paulus told AgriToday it was not difficult to determine any form of agribusiness would be ideal, given the earning potential of agribusinesses.
“It is no secret that agriculture is a growing industry and one that would continue to grow for many more years to come. Therefore, an investment in this sector is always beneficial to the investor,” he said.
The young entrepreneur said after scurrying for opportunities in the agribusiness sector, he settled on pig farming. He said he realised the livestock and poultry industries were saturated and that it would prove difficult to compete in them.
“Many ask me ‘why pig farming if you are doing accounting?’ I always respond that everything is possible. For me, I believe you can always find that link that you need in any business. I can still use my accounting skills in my pig farming business, for instance,” he said.
Ehao farming, which Paulus founded in February this year, has 6 pigs – 4 sows and 2 boars.
He farms with the Large White breed, and other local crossbreeds. The Large White is hailed as being highly prolific and an efficient feed utiliser.
The business currently employs one person, but Paulus has plans for expansion.
“The sky is the limit for us. I have huge plans for this business and would not let it go by,” he said.
According to the 2014 National Agriculture Census conducted by the Namibia Statistics Agency (NSA), there are approximately 87 206 pigs countrywide – and more than 50% are found in the communal areas of Northern Namibia.
Indigenous or local breeds make up more than 50% of the pig population in the country. Pigs are reared for various meat products such as pork meat, bacon and as an ingredient in other products such as sausages and polony.
In a country that has been affected by recurring droughts, livestock farming (cattle, sheep & goats) has been drastically affected, making it an expensive industry to operate in due to the feeding costs that farmers have to incur for sustaining their livestock numbers. Pig farming presents a diversification option that farmers can consider.
Significant potential exists in the piggery sector, which has a few commercial pig producers who enjoy a fair share of income from the sale of slaughtered pigs to butcheries, which, in turn, sell finished products such as ham, bacon and sausage to households.
Despite these good showings, one disadvantage of pig farming is said to be the feeding costs, which could be astronomical if not managed well.
“Yes, the cost of feeding the pigs is very high and has often been a problem for many upcoming pig farmers. We compare notes with other pig farmers and feeds is really what everyone is concerned about,” he said. To counter this, Paulus plans to start a soya beans and maize garden, which he can use to feed the pigs. Pig farming has been hailed for a variety of reasons, especially its production output.
Pigs are highly productive animals that can have 3 litters (birth) per 12-month period – and in the case of good breeds, a sow (female pig) can have about 7 to 8 piglets per litter. This enables the expansion of the pig herd in a short period.
On a more relaxed plan of production, one sow can have about 2 litters per year, with an average of 26 piglets and taking into consideration mortality, 21 piglets can be weaned.
The indigenous pig breeds are highly disease-resistant – and at times have been proven to need little vaccination to thrive. Finally, pig farming offers many households a good source of protein when consumed with the staple porridge maize or mahangu meal.