A ride on the bumpy murram road from Kolenyo market to Akado village in Seme, Kisumu County, leads me to the home of Mr Ronald Omondi.
Omondi is a security supervisor at a hotel in Qatar, but back home in Kolenyo, he rears rabbits, pigs and has a hydroponics project to supplement the animal fodder.
“I have not gone for any training on pig rearing, all the information on rearing pigs is on the internet. I went to YouTube and watched people who have piggeries in Kenya. I came across Clare Omanga in Nyamira who sold 40 pigs for over Sh1 million,” he says.
He adds: “I asked myself what I could do while outside my country; I could go back and start a similar project. I once read an article online of a pig farmer in Uganda who makes Sh7 million in a year.”
Omondi’s entrepreneurial spirit was ignited when he partnered with his aunt, Eunice Atieno, who lives in the US, to start the agribusiness project as a source of employment, income and education for the extended family at home.
“We decided we would start a model farm and employ family members at first. When it picks, we can give them each a pig to rear. This is in an effort to eradicate poverty.”
He takes me around his piggery. He started off with 20 piglets. He raised and fattened them for three months before selling them. A pig can give a farmer between nine to 16 piglets.
“We spent Sh1.8 million to construct the pig sty,” he says. “We plan to have two buildings. The other one can host 60 pigs. When the second building is complete, it will host 140 to 150 pigs.”
One of the pens has five pigs. “I bought them at four months on February 24 this year. They have added weight. Right now they weigh 55kgs. I plan to sell them on June 24. I will be doing three-month cycles of fattening the pigs and selling them as others grow,” he says.
The father of two says he has nine pens in total in the piggery. One is meant for the males that serve the sows.
He also has a tracker pasted on every pen that keeps essential records and information of the pigs. The tracker has information on the date of arrival of the pigs, their age, medication and the date set for them to leave the pen for sale.
“A fully grown pig eats 3kg of grain in a day. One has to consider the age so that you don’t overfeed them. One to two month-old pigs consume 1kg of dry matter in a day while two to four month-old pigs take 2kg.”
The farmer keeps the landrace breed, which grow fast and are resistant to disease.
The pigs eat almost anything and rarely fall sick, hence the cost of maintaining them is relatively low.
“After consulting a nutritionists, I learned that pig finishes are good when you are fattening them and just about to market them.
“I purchase my own feed and mix them. Normally I buy wheat pollard, wheat bran, bread crumbs, fish mill (ground dagaa) and limestone for calcium,” says the farmer.
“The feed for 50 pigs will cost me around Sh120,000 per month; that is dry matter, hydroponics and cabbages. I purchase cabbage from the market at Sh100 per 90kg sack.
“We wake at 7am, clean the piggery then we give them food between 9am and 5pm when we sweep the pens and feed them again at 6pm,” he says.
“We give them medication after every two weeks, deworm them and give them some antibiotics. We spray the piggery after two weeks against ticks and other insects.
“Pigs hate stress. Any abrupt noise can be a source of stress which leads to loss of weight.
“People have not realised that pigs can be very profitable because they grow quickly and don’t have high demands.”
He sells the animals to buyers in Nairobi and sometimes in Kisumu, and the returns are handsome.
“For you to realise good returns from pigs, you should sell in bulk. Our target is to sell 40 to 50 pigs after every three months. One piglet costs about Sh4,000, it matures within six months and sells at between Sh25,000 and Sh40,000,” says Omondi.
He feeds the pigs on hydroponics plants that are nutritious and make the pig lean. A lean pig will fetch you more cash than one with plenty of fat.
Normally a pig has 14mm of fat in its body. If you feed them 60 percent hydroponics and 40 percent dry matter, the fat level drops half.
“A lean pig will fetch you Sh300 per kg and above depending on the market, unlike a pig with 14mm of fat that will fetch you Sh230 to Sh280,”
“I sell the big pigs at Waiyaki Farms in Nairobi, who buy the pork at Sh280 per kg. If I subtract the expenditure on feeds, staff and transportation, I remain with Sh500,000 from the sale of 50 pigs. I can only realise this if I sell in bulk.”
“I wish the youth would change their minds on white-collar jobs and embrace agribusiness. I would not have realised the returns of farming if I had not embraced it,” he concludes.