Organic demo pigfarm in Ghana

Ten years ago George Fugluu from Ghana came to visit me in The Netherlands. He told me about his dream: an organic demonstration farm with pigs. Now he is going to make his dream come true.

For many years he was both a pig farmer and a teacher in Tamale, in Central Ghana. Recently, George Fugluu had the opportunity to lease four hectares of land near Kintampo, about 250 kilometers to the south. Here he can finally make his dream come true and combine both his talents: he starts his own small-scale demonstration farm.

A practical school where anyone who is interested can come, see, and learn. The location is impeccable, says Fugluu. “There is a market, there is feed for my pigs and there are people in this area who need a demo farm like this.” In this dry area, many young people, but also women and widows, see few opportunities in the labour market.

Artikel in the Dutch magazine Nieuwe Oogst, september 2011, bezoek George Fugluu aan Nederland.

Deventer

George knows what he is doing. At the beginning of this century, he studied tropical agriculture in Deventer. At the end of 2011, he visited me in The Netherlands, where I took him to some pig farms and butchers. He was impressed by the scale and efficiency, but he also learned a lot about the business and management.

But he also noticed the advantages of pig farming in Ghana above The Netherlands. There’s no need for administrating the manure balance and there are no cost-increasing welfare- and environmental measures. It’s also easier in Ghana to start a slaughterhouse and sell the meat from the farm.

However, the feed needs to be of good quality. Kitchen waste is fine, but not if it will be mixed only with crop residues with little nutritional value, such as soy hulls. George knows how to compile quality feed. Kitchen waste is fine. There’s enough available in the immediate surroundings. Between Yabraso, a village at two kilometers, and Kintampo, a town with about 50,000 inhabitants, six kilometers away, there are plenty of restaurants due to the tourists who visit this place frequently, because of the famous waterfalls of Kintampo.

To make good quality feed, he adds quality ingredients to this kitchen waste. He receives energy-rich cassava peels from his neighbour. And in his garden, besides vegetables for human consumption, he grows additional pig feed like corn for energy and beans such as soy and cowpeas for protein.

Organic

George consciously chooses organic farming. Anyone who thinks that organic farming is not a priority in remote areas in Africa, or even a luxury product, is wrong. There’s little control when it comes to pesticide use. Consumers don’t trust conventional products, because they can still contain residues. This is exactly why the demand for organic products in Africa is increasing.

Farmers themselves, who often don’t know how to handle the resources, are also aware of the dangers and prefer to use organic methods to protect their crops. The same applies to Ghana. And because labour isn’t expensive, George can hire staff for weeding.

Sausages

George in his garden

George has big plans for his small-scale demo farm. “It has to be versatile because I want to show different opportunities.” That is why, in addition to an extensive garden and a pig farm, he also wants to keep livestock in the long term. Beef or dairy cattle. And maybe some chickens. But his focus is on his specialism: pig farming. This also has many facets: he keeps pigs for breeding, but also for meat.

His pig farm will start small: with three sows and a boar. This will expand automatically: a sow can already give birth to the first piglets after a year. After two years perhaps twenty selected sows can be kept. The pig farm does not have to be larger than twenty sows. This will be enough for about eighty to a hundred fattening pigs every year.

He also wants to keep the slaughtering in his own hands. “This gives my final product added value,” says George. Especially when he also starts making sausages. He will be able to deliver directly to the consumer, and besides that, he can provide his students with an extra training program.

Startup capital

All this does require some investment. Most urgent are the stables, plus a storage place. But water is also indispensable. His garden, and soon the pigs, need quite a bit of water in this arid region. George did already sink a borehole that delivers enough water, but he needs a pump that runs on solar energy. This will cost him €3.000,-.

In a year and a half, when the first pigs can be slaughtered, he will need a freezer. For this, he needs even more electricity. So George needs quite some solar panels. For the first investments, he needs a small starting capital. With a thousand euros, he is already well on track.

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