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New School Opens for Small-scale Pig Farmers

by 5m Editor
18 June 2012, at 9:44am

SOUTH AFRICA - Small-scale pig farmers in KwaZulu-Natal stand to benefit from a new training academy established by the South African Pork Producers’ Organisation (Sappo) as part of its mentoring programme.

According to BusinessDay, if successful, several more pig-farming academies could be opened around the country to grow interest in the industry, promote entrepreneurship and improve farmworkers’ management skills.

Peter Mockford, chairman of Sappo, said the organisation wanted to ensure that farmers developed, and that they made a meaningful contribution to commercial and sustainable pork production in South Africa.

Sappo has worked with the Baynesfield Trust to establish the Baynesfield Training Academy for pig farming outside Pietermaritzburg. The trust aims to develop awareness of agriculture and the environment among children.

Mr Mockford said previous attempts to support black small-scale pig farmers with the know-how to help them develop into fully fledged commercial farmers had failed, embarrassing the organisation, funders and the country, as those efforts were not comprehensive and sustainable.

"Let’s learn from our mistakes and show our dedication to help build this industry by offering a comprehensive programme that will train a potential farmer to such an extent that if one wants to be a pig farmer, he has to think long and hard (and decide) either to stay — knowing the real challenges concerning the levels of hard work — or try something else," he said.

Mr Mockford said there used to be more than 2000 commercial farmers in the pork industry, but now there were only 228.

"For us to grow the number of commercial farmers and ensure that we have viable and self-sustaining businesses, we all have to put the shoulder to the wheel and ensure that these programmes are based on reality," he said.

"The real challenge is that the sector requires farmers to have the ability to buy in bulk the food and the medicine, and have sufficient numbers of sows to remain economically viable," Mr Mockford said.

According to Qeda Nyoka, Sappo project manager for emerging pig farmers, while small-scale farmers own an average of 20 sows, the industry believes a farm requires 100-200 animals to break even.

Many small-scale farmers fail because they buy vaccines, food and other essentials individually from wholesalers and end up paying more.

Also, new industry standards demand that sows be housed in bigger environments than in the past. Mr Mockford said new farmers had to build pigsties according to the latest regulations, while existing farmers were expected to rebuild by 2020.

"What adds to our challenges is the fact that ... at times, such as this week, we are facing very low and unsustainable prices, which makes it almost impossible to plan ahead or break even," he said. "This affects our small-scale farmers, whose operations are crippled and their efforts ruined."

Grant Kobus, GM of the new academy, said the facility would team up with agricultural secondary schools and further education and training institutions so their students could learn practical skills. These institutions will develop specific programmes for their students to qualify.

Mr Kobus said the pig producers’ sector supported the academy and would offer courses to educate staff in areas such as general and financial management for farm recordkeeping and accounting, feeding and vaccination supervision.

These will be one-week courses presented at various times of the year. After four weeks’ training in related fields, the participants will be certified.

"These courses will be presented by specialists in the field and be accredited. They are also aimed at farm owners, entrepreneurs and farm managers," he said.

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