CLEAN BUSINESS

Bishop now tends to his flock of pigs

He hated pigs, described in the Bible as unclean animals, but now Bishop Wawire makes Sh1 million keeping them

In Summary

• On his one-acre portion of land in Mbale, Vihiga county, he has put up various projects ranging from poultry, dairy and pig farming.

• Wawire’s journey in pig farming started in 2009 with only three pigs, costing him Sh90,000 from family savings.

Bishop Isack Wawire watches his piglets as they walk into there unit after cleaning.
Bishop Isack Wawire watches his piglets as they walk into there unit after cleaning.
Image: MARTIN OMBIMA

After serving as a laboratory technician at PanPaper factory in early 1980s Isack Wawire went back to college to acquire a diploma in occupational therapy.

Afterwards, he was posted to Kakamega General Hospital where he worked for about three years.

Wawire, who is currently a bishop, left his job at Kakamega General Hospital and went to Nigeria in 1990 for Bible studies.

 

On finishing his theological training, he started his own church at Mbale town where he is serving as the bishop.

The servant of God then opted to try his hand in agriculture. 

On his one-acre portion of land in Mbale, Vihiga county, he has put up various projects ranging from poultry, dairy and pig farming.

“I hated pigs generally and I used to relate them with dirt, so for me to be convinced to keep them was an uphill task,” says Wawire.

After attending a seminar on pig farming in Nairobi, Wawire also met some farmers who had kept pigs in clean environment.

The profits they were making after their sales motivated him.

Wawire’s journey in pig farming started in 2009 with only three pigs, costing him Sh90,000 from family savings.

 

Currently, he has between 120 and 150 pigs. 

Wawire says he began with large white and land race pigs that he saw doing well in other areas.

The large white, land race and du-race breeds are the best doing pigs in the region, and grow with minimal challenges.

The bishop’s yields have increased since he started using the organic fertilisers from pigs.

FEEDING

“I have seen persons using ropes to tie pigs, that’s not advisable. Keep them in a closed range and let them move freely,” says Wawire.

Pigs needs proteins, vitamins, calcium, direct sunlight and clean water for them to grow.

He uses about five or six bags of 70kgs, cost ranging between Sh11,000 to 13,200 to feed mature pigs.

REARING THE PIGLETS.

Protecting the piglets from cold after birth is the most technical area.

“We ensure they are kept in a worm place with the floor covered by dry saw dust. Their body system is yet to develop to generate heat that will stabilise it from the external temperature,” added Wawire.

He says if he fails to do so or any farmer who is venturing into pig farming fails, piglets dies from pneumonia.

In between 24-48 hours of birth, the piglets’ first four teeth are trimmed to avoid them sinking teeth into their mother’s nipple during suckling.

“If the mother senses any pain whenever the piglets are suckling, it will run away. That will lead to an automatic death to all of them and that is blow to a farmer,” said Wawire.

Between four to five days after birth, piglets are injected iron and that helps them to stabilise blood generation in the body.

Iron is a major component in blood formation, therefore failure to inject them may result to death due to iron deficiency.

Once that is done, the piglets are left to grow in same unit with the mother suckling them.

In one month's time, the male are castrated to curb interbreeding, apart from those the farmer targets for further breeding.

“Interbreeding of same genetic makeup end product is not profitable,” added Wawire. 

The piglets are castrated because most of the farms buy only sexually inactive ones and that also enables them to gain weight, which is profitable to the farmers.

In eight weeks, the piglets are separated from their mother to their chambers depending on sex and age.

In this stage, they are fed on growers mash.

Deworming is done after three months.

 After eight months, piglets are mature and ready for the market as compared to the indigenous breed that takes about two years to mature.

MARKETING

Wawire says as much as the market has remained a challenge to pig farmers, he has made good money out of the business.

  His first lucrative deal started in 2014 when he sold 45 expectant pigs to the county government at Sh25,000 netting Sh.1 million.

The county bought pigs to sponsor the farming women groups within the area.

“I admit I get something good from this pig farming, what you are seeing here was generated from this pigs.

There are more other things but we can’t share for the public,” he added.

“We are working closely with other pig farmers to have a cooperative that will help us sale our products without depending on farmers’ choice,” added Wawire.

Challenges

However, market accessibility has remained poor, especially to those in remote area.

Most pig farmers depend on Farmers’ Choice company to buy their product.

The company buys a kilo at Sh225, which farmers are against.

Farmers want the firm to buy a kilo at Sh250, to sustain them in business.

Wawire added animal feeds in Kenya are expensive, buying them as an individual is hectic hence sending a larger number of farmers out of the business.

They have been pushing the government to waive animal feeds taxes in vain.

“The prices there isn’t stable we need it adjusted so that we feel the value of our product,” Wawire added.

The county government has also failed to empower pig farmers within their counties.

Of late, the county has concentrated on dairy farmers, tea farmers and fish farming.

Agriculture CEC Pamela Kimwele said pig farming was growing slowly due to lack of immediate market.

“We are still looking in a way that we can have ready market for those who have pigs first before increasing them. It will be a challenge for us as the county to increase pig farming without having a target market,” says Kimwele.

“For the upcoming farmers in the market we are coming up with a cooperative that will help them sustain their pigs. Currently we are getting food on cheaper price because we buy in bulky as group from Farmers’ choice,” Wawire added.

The four-month-old piglets in their unit.
The four-month-old piglets in their unit.
Image: MARTIN OMBIMA