The Star (Nairobi)

22 January 2013

Kenya: Thika Man Pioneers Distance Pig Farming

Are you interested in pig farming but you are constrained by land, time or you probably cannot put up with the noise and work that comes with it?

Well, one man in Thika is here to do it for you. All you need to do is instruct the farmer on the number of sows you want and avail yourself to sign an agreement before a lawyer as you pay for your pigs.

Zachariah Miring'u from Mutuma village, Mangu location in Thika County says this business is trust-based as some of his clients only send money trusting that he will pick the right sows for them.

"I am targeting Kenyans in the diaspora. The interesting thing is that many of them tend to trust me more than they trust their relatives," he says.

It all started when Miring'u posted a picture of a sow he wanted to sell on Facebook and immediately a lady from the UK gave feedback and expressed her interest in pig farming.

"Through our Facebook communication, she had a keen interest in pig farming but distance was a major setback. I advised her to buy the sow from me for a start and I would rear it for her. We immediately made arrangements and a family member came to the farm to see the sow before we sealed the deal. She bought three sows for Sh75,000 plus Sh9,000 for the monthly upkeep. That was the beginning of distance pig farming," the 27-year-old farmer explains.

According to Miring'u, only sows are eligible for this business as piglets are expensive to keep since they come in large numbers. One sow costs Sh25,000 and there is an extra monthly cost of Sh3,000 per sow for upkeep.

So far Miring'u has 10 clients, seven of whom are from the diaspora.

He is targeting at least 15 people who are serious and can trust him to do pig farming for them. Miring'u bought a quarter acre of land in Juja where he is constructing a structure that will cater for at least 100 pigs including piglets.

Miring'u has taken up social media to market his pigs and encourage young people to venture into pig farming. He uses the online platforms to give information based on his experience to those interested in the business.

Eighty per cent of the money he charges for upkeep goes towards buying feeds but to supplement it, he uses wastes from cereals which, he says, are affordable for small scale pig farmers.

"I buy cereal wastes at Sh800 per bag but I have to boil them before feeding them to the pigs. When this is done, the same bag can produce two bags with each lasting for a week. While this helps in saving, it also adds nutrients to the animals and you can use the money to do other things," Miring'u says.

Besides increasing the number of clients, Miring'u is looking forward to holding a farmers' field day where a group of not more than 10 people can visit his farm.

"I will be inviting a veterinary doctor and an expert from Farmers Choice who will provide information and answer all questions," he says.

Pig farming in Kenya is a profitable venture. For instance, if you sell three sows in a month you will get Sh75,000. On the other hand, if you buy a piglet at Sh2,500 to Sh3,000, after six months it will have matured and will be worth Sh25,000 to Sh40,000.

"Even after subtracting the costs including feeds and labour, you will still have some good money in your pocket. It is a rewarding business as pigs only take six months to mature if properly fed. This fast maturity is useful when it comes to recouping business investments," says Miring'u.

On his future plans, Miringu says: "I plan to start a slaughter house and establish a pig society group where we can keep as many as 1,000 animals for supplying and packaging pig products in Kenya."

For more information visit Wess Pig Farm on Facebook or call 0723 316 000.

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