The Kerala Livestock Development Board (KLDB) is embarking on a project to set up small-scale piggeries in Idukki district, under plans for stock improvement and to meet the growing demand for pork in central Kerala.
The project, to be implemented under the Idukki package, involves promotion of homestead piggeries to produce seed stock and slaughter animals for farmers across the state. According to the KLDB, pig rearing is currently the most economical venture in the livestock sector because of the fast breeding rate and the spiralling price of slaughter pigs.
Minister for Animal Husbandry K.P.Mohanan said the Centre had granted approval for the Rs.36-crore project. He said it would be launched as soon as the funds were released.
A study commissioned by the Swiss Agency of Development and Cooperation in 1998 projected the annual demand for piglets in Kerala to be as high as 40,000. In the absence of adequate stock, farmers in the state have had to fall back on supplies from Tamil Nadu to meet the demand for pigs.
“The project is aimed at producing sufficient breeding herds that will ensure a steady supply of quality piglets for farmers”, says Ani S.Das, managing director, KLDB. Using a breeding stock of 600 sows, homestead piggery units set up by small farmers will produce 9600 weaned piglets a year. A litter comprises about 14 piglets. The animals gain up to 150 kg in six months.
The project envisages a total of 4,000 piggery units comprising three sows each. As the coordinating agency, the KLDB will procure the breeding stock from the nucleus farm set up at Koothattukulam as a joint venture with the Meat Products of India (MPI), and the farms of the Animal Husbandry Department and Kerala Agricultural University.
The KLDB- MPI nucleus farm is equipped with three European breeds- Largewhite, Landrace and Duroc. Females hybridised from two of the three species will be used as breeding stock while males from the third line will be used for production of fattening stock. The nucleus farm will produce 625 sows every year for breeding.
Dr.Das said the KLDB would provide technical assistance in setting up piggeries. “We also provide the design for the pig sheds to be set up by farmers. The design has been chosen to ensure maximum cleanliness and hygiene. There will be different pens for sows, boars and weaned piglets, and a biogas unit to handle the waste.”
The Minister said the government had decided to set up small-scale units to ensure sustainability and avoid the pollution problems caused by large pig farms. The proposed piggeries will use swill feed comprising leftovers from hotels, slaughterhouses and food processing industries, thereby helping in solid waste management, currently one of the burning issues faced by the state.
Each piggery unit is estimated to cost Rs.90,933, out of which Rs.47,507 will be subsidy and the rest, bank loan. According to the project report, a beneficiary farmer can expect an annual profit of Rs.52,000 from the sale of piglets. The MPI has worked out a mechanism to buy back the piglets from farmers. The price would be periodically revised.
Dr.Das said the demand for pork was showing an upward trend in Kottayam, Ernakulam, Idukki and Thrissur districts. “The project is ultimately aimed at tapping this growing market”.