Livestock: Never in his wildest dreams did Anand Rai see himself majoring in piggery farming a decade after graduating with bachelor’s degree in History.

Anand could not become a civil servant, so he tried his hands in dairy farming. He was also a petty contractor for some time. Today, Anand runs the biggest private pig-breeding farm in the country with 30 breeding sows and is doing well.

Recently, three sows at the farm gave birth to 29 piglets. Although the market price for a piglet is Nu 3,500 each, Anand sells them at Nu 1,500 to farmers.  National Piggery Development Centre (NPiDC) in Gelephu pays him additional Nu 2,000 for each piglet sold. Anand sold about 70 piglets since the establishment of the piggery in 2013.

Anand Rai said piglet production is a lucrative business. “Piggery farming gives faster investment returns than livestock rearing or dairy farming.”

Increasing demand for piglets has pushed the NPiDC to vigorously promote piglet production from farmers, especially from the south, which is more suitable for piggery farming.

Gelephu NPiDC’s programme manager, Pema Sherab, said that to meet the projected 1,000MT pork productions by 2018, demand for piglets has been increasing sharply every year. The three NPiDCs in the country, however, has been able to meet only less than half of the demand.

In 2013, there was demand for 7,200 piglets. Only 3,197 could be supplied. NPiDC last year could supply only 3,463 piglets against demand figure of 8,000.

“There is a need to produce at least 12,500 piglets every year to meet the 1,000 MT pork production target by 2018,” Pema Sherab said. He added that each pig should weigh 80kg before it is slaughtered for meat. A normal pig with proper food and water grows to 80kg in six months.

Pema Sherab said farmers are showing interest in piggery farming and piglet production, which has helped NPiDC meet pork production demand. Farmers are encouraged with free sty construction materials such as CGI sheet and cement.

Last year, private breeders produced a total of 128 piglets. The national piggery centre is expecting at least 1,000 piglets from farmers this year.

“We could become pork self-sufficient soon,” Pema Sherab said.

Nirmala Pokhrel