Boosting pig production among India’s poor: Tata-ILRI research partnership helps farmers beat classical swine fever

ILRI pig production project in Nagaland

A pig farmer in Nagaland, India. A Tata-ILRI partnership is helping Indian farmers beat classical swine fever to boost pig production (photo credit: ILRI/Ram Deka).

A program that is supporting rural Indian farmers improve their livelihoods by helping them to raise pigs more efficiently is the highlight of a new annual report by a project coordinated by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI).

The project, ‘Enhancing livelihoods through livestock knowledge systems’, is a partnership between the Sir Ratan Tata Trust, the Navajbai Ratan Tata Trust and ILRI that was started in 2011. The pig farming component of the project is being implemented in four Indian states: Jharkhand, Arunachal, Mizoram and Nagaland.

‘We support animal breeding, feeding, housing, health care and marketing through appropriate institutions,’ said V Padmakumar, the project’s coordinator from ILRI, who is based in ILRI’s Hyderabad office.

Nearly 80 per cent of the households in the four states rear pigs in smallholder systems, with each household rearing up to three pigs. Pork meets a significant part of the dietary protein needs of these communities.

‘Pig farmers in these remote areas not only have difficulty accessing markets due to poor roads but also have little knowledge on how they can improve their feeds and feeding systems to speed and increase their pig production,’ says Padmakumar. ‘Veterinary services are also scarce,’ he said.

One of the project’s key successes has been to raise attention of the need to improve veterinary services to deal with classical swine fever, a highly contagious and potentially fatal viral disease of pigs.

The project carried out a survey in 2011 that revealed that smallholder farmers in Assam, Mizoram and Nagaland lose, each year, nearly USD40 million in incomes due to the costs of treating and replacing pigs lost to classical swine fever.

Targeted advocacy by the project has increased government attention to the burden of this disease on the country’s smallholders. As a result, there now exists a nationwide swine fever control program that is prioritizing interventions against the disease in Assam, Mizoram and Nagaland. The project has also managed to raise awareness of control options available for controlling classical swine fever; the government is now supporting increased in-country production of vaccines that will protect pig populations against the disease.

Read the ‘Tata-ILRI Partnership Program’ annual report.

Download the project policy brief.

Better support for, and integration of, mixed crop and animal farming is key to increasing and sustaining world food production

Gita Kothari, crop-livestock farmer in India's northern state of Uttarakhand

A crop and livestock farmer in Uttarakhand, India. Integrated crop and livestock farming systems can play a significant role in improving global food security (photo credit: ILRI/Susan Macmillan).

Gita Fartiyal is a master’s student at Almora University, in Uttarakhand, India. She is also a small-scale livestock keeper. The money she makes from selling milk and animals is helping pay for her schooling. Fartiyal and her brother keep about 40 goats on a family crop-and-livestock farm in the mid-Himalayan region of northern India. Gebremicheal Desta grows crops and keeps dairy cows on a small farm in Ethiopia’s’s northern region of Tigray. His family depends on the income it gets from farming to pay for food, daily expenses and school fees.

Smallholder farmers, especially those in mixed crop and livestock systems like Fartiyal and Desta, produce milk, meat and eggs not only for their families but also to meet growing demands for foods of livestock origin. In much of the developing world, increasing population, economic growth and urbanization is driving a rapid demand for livestock foods. In India, for example, smallholders are producing more milk (105 million tons of milk in 2009 compared to 74 million tons in 1999) to respond to an increasing demand for dairy products. With the world’s population expected to reach 9 billion people by 2050, smallholder farmers are expected to play an important role in meeting global food demand in coming years.

Mixed crop and livestock farming systems support nearly 1 billion poor people across the world. Most of these are smallholders working a couple of hectares and relying on family labour to grow crops and keep livestock. But questions remain about how best to intensify production in these mixed systems so as to increase food yields and do so sustainably.

A report released last year, ‘Integrating crops and livestock in subtropical agricultural systems’, produced by researchers from the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, evaluates options to sustainably intensify production in these smallholder mixed systems. The 2011 report explores ways of refining the integration of crop growing and animal husbandry in the face of ever-diminishing land and water resources and climate change.

‘We need to help these small-scale farmers make the most efficient use of their land and water resources to increase productivity while at the same time sustaining and enhancing their natural resource base’, said Iain Wright, a science leader at ILRI and one of the report’s authors.

According to the paper, a key to global food security is helping tropical smallholders produce more food more efficiently through smart integration of their crop and livestock production.

The authors recommend three practical ways to both improve and sustain smallholder crop production.

First, crop and animal scientists should work together in crop improvement programs to improve the fodder quality of cereal and legume food crops. The resulting new varieties of sorghum and other crops would provide good yields of both human food and livestock feed. Second, farmers should make greater use of crop residues as animal feeds, which will make better use of water resources by ‘spreading the “cost” of the water used for growing crops across the grain and animal feed components’. Third, farmers should more effectively harness manure for crop production by adopting the ‘technology of storing and distributing manure to avoid the loss of nutrients and biomass’.

In the battle to produce more food to feed the world, smallholder mixed crop and livestock systems are increasingly seen as competitive because they make efficient use of natural resources, spread risk across several enterprises and allow for more flexible and profitable use of family labour, all of which can translate into much lower costs and environmental impacts in producing food compared to large specialized and industrialized farms. The increasing demand for livestock products is also making it possible for farmers to access local markets and increase their incomes.

The report also acknowledges that mixed crop and livestock farming systems alone will not produce all the food the world will need. ‘Specialised cropping systems and intensive livestock systems will [also] play their part’, the paper says. The rapid transition to industrial production of poultry, pig and dairy production systems in Asia is an example of how intensified agricultural production systems are helping to meet food demands for growing populations in that part of the world.

At the same time, the vast army of small-scale farmers like Fartiyal and Desta will be able to fulfill their potential and fully participate in more efficiently integrated agricultural systems that improve global food security only if they have access to ‘appropriate technologies, supportive policies at local, national and regional level and dynamic markets that can supply inputs and channel outputs to consumers more efficiently’.

Download the report: http://mahider.ilri.org/handle/10568/5556

Watch a related ILRI photofilm: ‘A tribute to the unsung heroes of small-scale food production’, http://blip.tv/ilri-photofilm/tribute-to-the-unsung-heroes-of-small-scale-food-production-5225764

 

 

 

New training manuals for improving small-scale pig production: With lessons from northeastern India

ILRI pig production project in Nagaland

Children of a smallholder pig-farming household in Mon District, Nagaland, in the far northeastern corner of (tribal) India, which is participating in an ILRI project to help the rural poor enhance their production of pigs and pork (photo credit: ILRI/Ram Deka).

A new set of training manuals for pig farmers is now available. The manuals inform poor rural pig farmers in developing countries how to ‘intensify’ their production, using lessons gathered from a research-for-development project in India. Among other recommendations, the manuals offer ways of improving smallholder pig farming, including basic veterinary care, and pork production and marketing.

‘These manuals are the result of an analysis of the main gaps in small-scale pig production in India,’ said Rameswar Deka, a scientist from the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) based in Guwahati, in northeastern India. ‘They are a response to farmer needs and offer a reference for best practices in managing small-scale pig systems.’

The manuals are a result of a project called ‘Livelihood Improvement and Empowerment of Rural Poor through Sustainable Farming Systems in Northeast India’. The five-year project, in India’s Assam and Nagaland states, was started in 2007 with funding from the Government of India, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), ILRI and the World Bank.

ILRI pig production project in Nagaland

Raising pigs is a particularly important livelihood for smallholders in northeast India, where hilly terrain, poor roads and widespread poverty hamper crop cultivation. ‘Crop farming alone cannot meet the needs of families in these areas and many rely on livestock–mostly pigs and chickens–to supply much needed nutrition and income,’ said Deka.

The livelihood improvement project is working with farmers to develop pig production in particular because the region has a history of pig rearing and because keeping pigs requires minimal investments at the outset. Pig production is also easily intensified using locally available resources.

There are three well-illustrated manuals. Smallholders’ pig management offers a detailed look at pig systems in India, including features of common breeds, how to care and manage piglets, the reproductive cycle of pigs, breeding methods and how to cultivate feed-food crops. Veterinary first aid for pig offers information on organisms that cause common pig diseases, how to identify them and basic ways of controlling their spread. Hygienic pork production and marketing details how to hygienically process pork, follow slaughterhouse and meat inspection procedures and how to pack and preserve pork for sale.

ILRI pig production project in Nagaland

ILRI scientist Ram Deka (middle) distributes training manuals to Livestock Service Providers participating in an ILRI pig production project in the state of Nagaland, in northeast India, 2011 (photo credit: ILRI).

The manuals provide easy-to-apply principles in improving pig management, feeding, and care to enhance yields. Farmers in areas where the project is implemented say the manuals are helping them to increase their production. Project staff have set up systems for collecting feedback from farmers and trainers so as to improve future editions of the manuals.

‘We hope these manuals will serve other countries as well,’ said Iain Wright, ILRI’s former representative in Asia. ‘This information can be adapted to make relevant training tools for smallholder pig farmers in other areas of the world where small-scale pig production systems are growing rapidly.’

Download manuals:

Training manual on smallholders’ pig management

https://cgspace.cgiar.org/handle/10568/12533

Training manual on veterinary first aid for pig

https://cgspace.cgiar.org/handle/10568/12534

Training manual on hygienic pork production and marketing

https://cgspace.cgiar.org/handle/10568/12535