Pig production in India has increased substantially in recent times. It is considered one of the most sustainable industries in the country. Pigs as compared to other livestock species have great potential to contribute to faster economic return to the farmers, because of certain inherent traits like high fecundity, better-feed conversion efficiency, early maturity and short generation interval. Pig farming also requires small investment on buildings and equipment.
An estimated half a million people in India are involved in pig farming and 70% of the pig population is reared under traditional smallholder, low-input demand driven production
Mahendra Singh, 46, is one such small-scale farmer. Hailing from the village of Chirlamujapata near Prayagraj city of Uttar Pradesh province, he had ambitions of going beyond his family’s traditional farming activities and ventured into pig farming. He got inspiration from watching YouTube videos on pig farming, and in 2019 he, along with his brother Rahul Singh set up a pig farm, armed with the knowledge from YouTube and consultations from a few farmers in his locality who reared pigs.
They started small but have been able to grow the business gradually even in the hard times of the pandemic.
“We spend about INR 18 lakh (approximately US $23,800) every year and make a profit of INR 15 lakh (approximately US $19,800) annually. Of the sales we make, about 40% is profit,” says Mahendra. The expenditures include buying piglets, feed, medicines & healthcare, labour, electricity etc.
To ensure that the pigs are healthy, Mahendra has been working with representatives of Hester Biosciences, who regularly visit farmers within the locality to support them with their animal health needs. Hester Biosciences has been working with GALVmed and local government officials in provision of crucial veterinary medicines and advice targeted at small-scale livestock producers.
After the initial intensive guidance, Mahendra is now able to proactively make decisions regarding the health of the pigs. “In the three years I have been in business, I am happy with the success we have been able to achieve.”
But this success has not been without hard work and growing pains. After the initial capital of INR 9 lakh (approximately US $11,880) more expenses cropped up that required more capital injection to the tune of INR 26 lakh (approximately US $34,320). The business was finally able to break even after two years, which is a feat, considering disruptions caused by the pandemic.
Apart from the regular feed given to the pigs, Mahendra used mineral supplements such as Repro Plus and for pregnant sows, Protin C. The supplement is given to the sows even after the deliveries of piglets.
The farm can have up to 300 animals at a time. Pigs are sold once every six months and most of them are transported to the north-eastern states of the country, where pig consumption is high. The business has become the main source of income for Mahendra and his family. He has set an example of success that may soon be emulated by others.
As success spread, so did interest, and more small-scale producers continue to venture into pig farming. In Mahendra’s locality, about 60 farmers are involved in pig farming now. And these farmers will require animal health services and information to take care of their pigs and improve their livelihoods.