Pigs and Livelihoods
Small-scale pig production can contribute in many ways to improving farmers’ livelihoods. Pork and other pig products provide valuable protein; the meat is easy to dress and has superior curing and storage qualities. Additional income earned from the sale of animals and animal products can be saved or used to invest in farm assets or school fees and to pay for medical treatment. Pigs can also provide income for women, thereby enhancing their roles in families and communities. Sick and disabled people can participate in pig raising because it does not require excessive labour and is relatively simple to manage. The low start-up costs and small investments required for buildings and equipment can be recovered fairly quickly because pigs can be slaughtered six to eight months from birth, depending on breed and feed availability. Pigs also constitute a store of wealth and a safety net in times of crisis.
Pigs have a relatively short life-cycle and a high reproductive rate compared with ruminants, which make them a low-risk investment with quick returns. Pig husbandry can easily be integrated with other farming or aquaculture activities. And because pig production does not necessarily require access to land, it has gained importance in the small-scale urban and peri-urban livestock sector.