The past few months have been a nightmare to pig farmers in major production basins following the outbreak of the African swine fever. Estimated losses stand at FCFA 500 million.
Pig farmers in the main production basins in Cameroon have gone through a traumatising period as the African swine fever outbreak has wreaked havoc during the past three months. The largest production basin in the West Region and parts of the Littoral and parts of South West are still counting their losses of their livestock as dust begins to settle. What is required now is the revival of the sector which has been severely hit. According to the President of the Inter-professional Association of Pig producers in the West Region, the damages are enormous but it is time for actors in the sector to put the past behind them and combine efforts towards the revival of the sector.
As part of moves to revive the sector, the Ministry of Livestock, Fisheries and Animal Industries through the Livestock Development Project has announced the importation of some 100 high yielding pig species to be distributed to farmers in the production basin. Officials of the Ministry of Livestock as testified by the West Regional Delegate Dr Jonas Temwa said there is the need for the strict respect of sanitary measures now that tests have been run in laboratories from specimen collected from the animals with results showing no existence of the fever in the West Region at the moment.
Going by the importance of the pig sector, the biosecurity surveillance must be continued while producers activate activities to relaunch the sector. The role of the pig sector cannot be over emphasised with over 220,000 families depending on the activity for survival. The government’s development blueprint, National Development Strategy 2020-2030 stresses on increasing animal production including pork to meet the high need for animal protein. The Livestock Development Project, PRODEL, is playing the mandated role to support producers technically and financially. During the first phase of the PRODEL project, 5,000 piglets were imported and distributed to pig farmers. With the recent announcement of 100 high and rapidly yielding piglets’ species to be imported, there is hope for a rebound in the sector which lost an estimated herds of 150,000 heads in the West Region alone to the recent African swine fever. In 2015, pig farming reached a peak production of 30,000 tons of pork. A study published in 2021 in the Pathogens MDPI journal reveals that Cameroon producers 2.02kg of pork per person lower than the expected 5kg per person. According to the study authored by Ebanga Joseph Ebwanga et al (2021) Cameroon is highest producer of pork in Central Africa with about 3.2 million pigs in 2021.
The President of the Inter6professional association of pork producers, Bernard Nguetchouessi Souop urges government to also consider small producers in their revival plan and not only big producers. Meantime, he calls on his peers to source for resources in order to relaunch activities.