Farmers in Mkwinda Extension Planning Area in Lilongwe are optimistic that the pig pass on project being championed by the Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources’(Luanar) Bunda College will change their lives faster than the cattle pass on project which started earlier in the area because pigs reproduce at a faster rate compared to cattle.
In an interview during a pass on campaign at Mkwinda, chairperson of the Mkwinda Dairy Club John Majamanda said since they started working with Bunda College, the lives of many farmers in the area have completely changed.
The pass on campaign in the area started in 2010 when Bunda College gave farmers dairy 14 cattle so that when they reproduce they should be given to the next farmer on the waiting line.
Said Majamanda: “When we started the group there were about 20 farmers and we got 14 dairy cattle. But when people saw that the programme was successful they were interested to join to an extent that the group has swelled to 70.
“Having seen that it will take over five years for those on the waiting list to get cattle we decided to buy two pigs which have reproduced and now have 13 piglets which we will share to those on the waiting list.”
He said since pigs reproduce very fast within two years all the members of the group will have a pig.
“Our investment is now about K6 million [about $14 285] and government has given us a go ahead to change our group from a club into a cooperative. Those who have dairy cattle are also happy because one animal produces 10 liters of milk which they sale at K150 per litre,” said Majamanda.
Some people, according to Majamanda, have built good houses and others have bought important household items.
Agriculture extension development coordinator for Mkwinda area John Malekano said when they were approached by Bunda to start animal pass on project, they could not turn down the project which would be a life changer to many farmers.
“Before the start of this project, there was a shortage of milk in this area but now everything has changed. With the introduction of the pig pass on project then more farmers will also benefit within a short period of time,” said Malekano.
Bunda College deputy head in the Department of Animal Science Bettie Kaonga said they decided to reach out to the farmers as part of the colleges outreach programme.
“We have changed the lives of farmers in this area and our plan is that we build a milk bulking centre where we will keep all the milk the farmers will be selling to us. The project is already at an advanced stage and as soon as we get funding we will complete the centre so that we can buy milk at a good price,” said Kaonga.
On the pig pass on project Kaonga said it will be a prerogative for the college to train the farmers on how to look after the animals so that they reproduce in large numbers within a short period of time.