GHANA - Until the 1986 Pork Show, pork was not much desired by Ghanaians, although imported pig feet, interestingly, has always been a delicacy, writes Francis Ekow de Heer for The Pig Site.
The local ‘Ashanti Black’ or ‘Ashanti Dwarf’, hardy and well adapted to local conditions but limited in mature size and productivity, was the predominant type reared in limited numbers under traditional conditions.
After the Pork Show, however, consumption habits changed, and imported products enjoyed a good market.
Local commercial production started soon after, and the pig industry today is enjoying a boom. The Ghana Pig Farmers Association boasts a membership of 400 farmers who organise regular regional programmes.
Imported sausages, bacon, ham and other products are still very visible on supermarket shelves, but local products are also in good demand. The growing pork industry has created a distinct, viable market that is drawing regular clientele.
Like the cheap chicken parts which decimated Ghana’s poultry industry for some twenty years, pork products are relatively cheap. At most ‘cold stores’, there are packs of sausages and frankfurters to meet every pocket, and at many take-away joints one can buy fried yam or rice and sausage for lunch.
Sausage rolls are very popular at snack joints. And the numbers of dedicated pork restaurants are increasing, serving pork kebabs and sausages with rice or chips, and grilled or fried pork with the West African delicacy, Jollof Rice.
Amax pork joint is visible at Kokrobite in Accra. And in addition to its several outlets at strategic locations in Accra, Pork Office also operates a delivery service. At many drinking bars and street corners, beef kebabs no longer hold sway.
Most of the well packaged pork products at the popular shopping malls are imported, but a good number of the sausages and pork chops are supplied by local farmers.
Very few of the local meat houses at the traditional markets sell pork, but there are small pork shops in most urban areas doing good business. Pork chops can be bought off the shelves at between 15 and 20 cedis per kilo.
The Ministry of Agriculture’s Babile Pig Breeding Station is developing the genetic traits of the Ashanti Black Pig to improve its viability with the view to increasing commercial production. But most of the breeds being used in the small scale commercial production enterprises are imported, with the assistance of the Ministry’s Nungua Farms. The Large White and Landrace are the predominant commercial breeds in Ghana.
As in poultry production, feed costs account for about 70 per cent of the pig farmers’ budgets. Maize is used by most pig and poultry farmers. But it is also the main food ingredient of most Ghanaians.
Soya bean meal and fish meal, the main protein ingredients, are imported.
Most pig farmers use self-compounded feed, and are often able to reduce costs by deploying a wider range of ingredients like cassava and brewers’ spent grains, which are not used in poultry feed.
There are quite a number of agro by-products which have been proven to be viable food ingredients, especially as substitutes for maize. Effective deployment of these will greatly facilitate large scale pig farming.
Mr Kow Acheampong, the dynamic President of the Pig Farmers Association, believes that with increased availability of investment, pig farming will make a major contribution to the Ghanaian economy.
Most Ghanaian pig farmers, he says, have a maximum of 40 sows, and that limits the amount of profits to be enjoyed. He believes that financial institutions and the investing public should look at the very high returns on pig farming compared to other investment avenues, and ‘take a wise decision’.
The local pork industry, especially the sausage sector, suffered a major setback in April 2014, when a video of sausage manufacturer in Ghana went viral, showing the use of unhygienic processing methods. Although the video was later found to be fake, many Ghanaians stopped patronising pork products, and the pork market suffered a massive fall in revenue.
Mr Mekafui Segbawu, President of the Ghana Sausage Manufacturers Association and head of Spelding Foods, was compelled to send home most of his workers. The Food and Drugs Authority joined the Association in a public relations effort which restored a substantial part of their patronage.
"We certainly didn’t need the bad publicity we got," said Mr Akyeampong. "But our industry has great potential. Our future prospects are very bright."
ThePigSite News Desk