Securing rural livelihoods through improved smallholder pig production in Mozambique and Tanzania (SLIPP)
The SLIPP project aims to improve community food security in Mozambique and Tanzania by fostering optimal smallholder pig production model systems. The project is an extension of previous Danish-funded projects in the two countries which informed that smallholder pig production is mainly a women's occupation or a way for the elderly to maintain a pension. It is characterised by extreme low productivity mainly due to poor husbandry practices, African Swine Fever and cysticercosis, which lead to low birth and growth rates, high mortality, and no or low market prices. Simple farmer-based solutions to increase productivity and avoid economic ruin due to ASF and health and economic consequences of cysticercosis will contribute to secure protein foods, improve farmers' livelihoods and contribute to poverty alleviation. The project therefore proposes to develop and assess, through applied research, evidence-based, safe, humane and profitable smallholder pig production model systems using locally available resources, involving private entrepreneurs to supply tools, and providing training and education from farm to university level. Research and capacity building will be based on support of Post-Doctoral researchers and PhD and Master students at local universities under supervision of both South and North senior scientists. Research findings will be disseminated to key local stakeholders and internationally via publications, presentations, educational materials and policy briefs.
Project completion report:
Food safety and security is challenging in rural areas of south-eastern Africa particularly when it comes to good quality protein. There has been an increase in pig production by smallholder farmers in Angónia district, Mozambique and Mbeya region, Tanzania. The reason is that pigs produce many offspring and ensure a rapid turn-over of low quality resources as pig are indiscriminate omnivores. Unfortunately, farmers have little tradition for keeping pigs and poor knowledge of their requirements. The task of the project was therefore to identify essential tools and develop improved production models suited to the local assets and level of technology adaptation in order to improve the farmer livelihoods. To achieve this and build regional research capacity local Ph.D. and master students were recruited to carry out the project activities.
Initially, farmers participated in village meetings with the research team, agricultural and livestock development officers to explain their main challenges. Farmer training programs were then put together and information materials produced. These covered good pig management (e.g. breeding, housing, animal welfare, feed and water provision) and health (disease occurrence, prevention and treatment). Farmers also helped construct of an optimised pig pen as inspiration for improving their own housing systems. This was crucial as proper confinement of pigs is key in preventing certain infectious diseases. These include the untreatable African swine fever that can wipe out entire pig populations and porcine cysticercosis (cysts in meat and organs) caused by the tapeworm Taenia solium that diminishes the value of pigs and pork because of its impact on human health. Through onfarm research and testing of the project production models the project identified the drug, Oxfendazole, as essential for combatting T. solium and formulated a treatment strategy. In addition, an interactive computer program on T. solium prevention and control, pig welfare and meat hygiene (https://theviciousworm.sites.ku.dk/) was produced and converted into an app for mobiles which are very important for dissemination of information in the region.
Overall, the project demonstrated that smallholder pig production can be optimised and made profitable to positively influence all five types of assets (human, social, natural, financial and physical) needed for sustainable development and resilience of smallholder farmers in rural areas. However, many smallholders still struggle to come up with the initial investments needed for improving production. This is particularly true in Mozambique where there is the biggest need for continued support and development. To advocate for this there was regular contact with regional and national authorities and policy makers to ensure a high level of awareness of the project and its outcomes. A policy brief was produced and T. solium was included in the Tanzania national health research priorities for 2013-2018.