Local farmers have cited the insufficient number of quality pig slaughterhouses as one of the major obstacles to penetrate the local and regional markets
Rwanda has only two standard pig slaughter houses, located in Rubavu and Kicukiro districts, which farmers say are inadequate to handle the growing population of pigs in the country.
Jean Claude Shirimpumpu, the Chairperson of Rwanda Pig Farmers Association (RPFA), revealed that most of the pork sold on the local market comes from pigs that are slaughtered through poor conditions, mainly in banana plantations.
This leads to the production of low quality pork, which can be harmful to people's lives
"Two pig slaughterhouses are not enough to serve the big number of pig farmers," he noted.
DR Congo is currently Rwanda's biggest pork market with over 90 per cent of national produce being exported to the country, according to figures from National Agriculture Export Board.
"Pig farmers encounter losses as we export live pigs which we should have processed. Our wish is to export pork as it is believed to be lucrative," Shirimpumpu said.
He went on to request the Government to establish standard abattoirs countrywide.
"It will subsequently boost pork exports and improve the quality of pork that is consumed locally."
Rwanda has a population of 1.7 million pigs, and with the number of pigs growing at a rate of 239 per cent, Shirimpumu said, pork production could increase from 20,000 tonnes to 67,000 tonnes every year.
John Gatete Kalanze, Sector Capacity Building Analyst at the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), assured that through its five-year strategic plan the Board plans to build standard pig slaughterhouses across the country.
"RDB plans to unveil modern pig abattoirs countrywide that will particularly be built in Integrated Polytechnic Regional Colleges (IPRCs). We therefore believe that this project will significantly benefit pig farmers," he noted
Gatete went on to say that RDB in partnership with Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) were currently implementing $20 million project meant to support local agricultural suppliers and to promote e-Commerce in the agriculture value chains which he noted that piggery was among the sectors that were given priority.
"As the project is about to hit its phase one, in the phase two we are planning to support livestock infrastructure by notably availing standards abattoirs and cold rooms among other facility that we believe will impact piggery in Rwanda. As the country is hilly pig rearing has to be emphasised," Gatete assured.
He noted that besides standard abattoirs, the project looks to expose locally made agricultural and livestock stuff through the e-Commerce platforms.
Officials from RPFA said they export a number of piglets to DR Congo, Burundi and Tanzania among other East African region countries for breeding purposes.
So far, three pig breeds - Large White, Pietrain and Landrace - are being multiplied and distributed to farmers countrywide to spur production, according to officials.
Pig farming in Rwanda has been growing progressively after the number of pigs increased by 76 per cent in the last seven years to over 1.7 million, according to statistics from the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources (MINAGRI).