Challenges of Designing a Diet Using Local Feedstuffs for Ugandan Subsistence Farmers

An overview of a project to develop practical diets for pigs in Uganda based on local feed ingredients was given by Natalie Carter of the University of Guelph to the Centralia Swine Research Update 2015.
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Centralia Canada


Small-scale pig production in East Africa can improve the welfare of smallholder farm families (Kristjanson et al 2004;Randolph et al 2007).

Smallholder farmers keep one to four growing pigs and sell them to pay for food, school fees, and medicine (Dewey et al 2011; Kagira et al 2010). However pigs grow slowly, gaining on average 130 + 20 grams per day (Carter et al 2013).

Poor genetics, free-range management, parasites, and nutritional deficiencies may contribute to their slow growth (Kagira et al 2012; Katongole et al 2012; MAAIF 2005; Muhanguzi 2012; Mutua et al 2012; Ouma et al 2014 report; Thomas et al 2013).

In Uganda, smallholder pig farmers report that feeding is a key production constraint. Feeds are expensive and scarce, particularly in dry seasons and in the “hungry months” that occur several months after harvest when feed and food stocks run low.

Food/feed competition between people and pigs, and lack of knowledge to formulate low-cost nutritionally balanced rations are further challenges (Katongole et al 2012, MAAIF 2005; Mutua et al 2012; Ouma et al 2014 report; Muhanguzi et al 2012). Poor roads, limited transportation means, and a lack of money with which to buy feeds further inhibit farmers’ ability to provide pigs balanced diets.

Fruits, opportunistic legumes (weeds), crop residues, and concentrates that are low-to-no cost are available seasonally (Katongole et al 2012; MAAIF 2005; Mutua et al 2012; Ouma et al 2014 report; Muhanguzi et al 2012). These could be used to formulate balanced least-cost rations to meet pigs’ nutrient requirements, to improve pig growth performance while minimising feed costs.

In Uganda, empirical studies describing the nutrient value and seasonal availability of local pig feedstuffs have not been done, nor have the nutrient requirements of local and crossbreed pigs been determined. This information is needed as a basis for development of low-cost seasonal diets for pigs.


The objectives of this study were:

  1. to estimate the nutrient value, seasonal availability, and relative importance of locally available pig feedstuffs in Central Region, Uganda
  2. determine the nutrient requirements of local and crossbreed starting and growing pigs
  3. develop low-cost balanced diets
  4. conduct a feed trial to determine the average daily gain and feed conversion of starting and growing pigs fed one of two diets based on local feedstuffs; and
  5. conduct farmer training and feedback workshops to share the diets with farmers and understand the associated benefits and challenges of feeding the new diets to their pigs.


Throughout the implementation of this research to accomplish the objectives above, the limited resources of smallholder farmers and their lack of access to purchased feeds, seasonal availability of feedstuffs, human/pig food/feed competition, management practices (presence or lack of deworming protocol, free-range versus tethered/housed) were considered.

Spending approximately three years in East Africa helped the author gain a thorough understanding of the challenges experienced and the opportunities available to smallholder farmers there.

Following diet development and validation through a controlled feed trial, trial results and diet formulation were shared with farmers and their feedback was requested.


Pig feedstuffs of adequate nutritional value are locally available in Uganda. Low-cost balanced diets can be developed that not only meet the nutrient requirements of local pigs on smallholder farms but that include low-to-no-cost feedstuffs to which smallholder farmers have access.

These diets also minimise the inclusion of purchased pig feedstuffs and feedstuffs that people consume as food. Farmer feedback revealed that they are willing and able to feed these diets to their pigs.

Acknowledgments: These studies have been sponsored by the Smallholder Pig Value Chain Development Project, Livestock and Fish by and for the Poor CGIAR Research Program (CRP 3.7), IFAD, European Union, Ontario Veterinary College and the Ontario Agricultural College at University of Guelph.


  • Carter, N., Dewey, C., Mutua, F.K., de Lange, C., Grace, D. (2013) Average daily gain of local pigs on rural and peri-urban smallholder farms in two districts of western Kenya. Trop. Anim. Health Prod. 45:1533-1538.
  • Dewey, C.E., Wohlegemut, J.M., Levy, M., and Mutua, F.K. (2011) The impact of political crisis on smallholder pig farmers in Western Kenya, 2006-2008, Journal of Modern African Studies, 49,3, 455-473.
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Carter N., C. Dewey, B. Lukuyu, D. Grace and K. de Lange. 2015. Challenges of designing a diet using local feedstuffs for Ugandan subsistence farmers. Proceedings of 34th Annual Centralia Swine Research Update. 28 January 2015. I23-I25.

Further Reading

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April 2015

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