At least 40,000 pigs will be fitted with electronic ear tags by June 2021 in the four districts of Kampala, Mpigi, Mukono and Wakiso
Scientists from the University of Edinburgh, Makerere University and two private firms have embarked on a pilot project to monitor pigs in four districts.
The project dubbed PigBoost aims to generate accurate data about pig population to guide disease monitoring and planning for pig farmers in the central region.
Prof Clovice Kankya, the head of the department of biosecurity, ecosystems and veterinary public health at Makerere University said the project would improve pig production in Uganda.
Under the initiative, pigs will be fitted with electronic and visual identification tags with real-time information about each pig’s health, Kankya told New Vision on Monday.
The electronic tags will store information about the breed, size, birth rate, disease syndrome, weight, among other characteristics, which will be accessible through a smartphone application.
At least 40,000 pigs will be fitted with electronic ear tags by June 2021 in the four districts of Kampala, Mpigi, Mukono and Wakiso, a region known as the pig corridor.
The project will seek to address low average production and poor animal health, a common challenge among pig farmers in the region, in spite of rising demand for pork products.
Uganda has the highest pork consumption rate per capita in East Africa, according to a 2019 study by the World Animal Protection, a global animal protection agency.
The study also projects that the country’s pig population will grow from about 3.2 million presently to 8 million by 2025, which will require innovative farming methods to sustain.
However, low weight and growth rate for pigs are major challenges for many Ugandan farmers, according to Dr Lenoard Kawule, the executive director of Vetline, a piggery consultancy firm.
“Although the average birthrate for pigs is 9.1 per delivery, the rate is much lower in rural areas because of so many factors, one of them being the choice of breed,” he explained.
According to Kawule, the tracking of pigs will help to control in-breeding, one of the biggest threats to the industry which has been linked to low production rate.
He explains that breeding of pigs from closely related animals produces breeds that are sickly and weak, resulting in losses for farmers.
Scientists, farmers, technicians, veterinarians, and business managers from Uganda, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom scientists will take part in the pilot project.
Dr Timothy Byrne from AbacusBio, a science and technology firm based in New Zealand and the UK says the data on individual pigs will guide technicians to give targeted services to farmers.