Knowledge for Development

Enhancing pig productivity in Lake Victoria crescent zone: the effect of genotype and post-weaning diet

Author: Donald Rugira Kugonza, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda

Date: 28/03/2014


Dr Rugira, who won the fifth prize in the Young Professionals in Science competition, told Knowledge for Development that the most relevant result of his research was developing a much cheaper feed for rearing pigs and getting farmers to adopt a new pig breed that provides better quality pork. ‘More meat of better quality will now become available to Africans, improving their protein intake. The livelihoods of pig farmers will also improve through the generation of extra income and savings made on feed.’ He continued that ‘the recognition means we can build on our research for further action-research to address livestock related issues. This award energized me and makes me feel that good science is appreciated irrespective of the subject matter.’ In five years Dr Rugira expects to be at the peak of his scientific career and hopes that he will be ‘mentoring other Africans researchers, publishing at free will, winning bigger research grants and possibly leading a research organisation.’  


Africa is a net importer of pork and smallholder pig farmers rely on imported manufactured feeds which are available at prohibitive costs. Returns on investment are not positive. Despite a vibrant pig sector, absence of effective integration of pigs and crop production has been a concern, and there is low uptake of both new and improved breeds and use of the relatively low-cost wheat bran that is readily available.  

The objective of this study was to determine the effect of genotype and diet on growth performance and carcass characteristics of pigs. Test groups of Cambrough and Cambrough × Large White crossbred pigs were fed a diet based on maize bran, wheat bran and whole maize. Data collected on feed intake, weight gain, back fat thickness and body condition score and an analysis of carcass, tissue and palatability showed that diet composition and pig breed significantly influenced all these factors. Pork of Cambrough pigs had significantly less fat thickness than crossbreeds and scored highest for palatability. Wheat bran diet gave the best option for feeding pigs due to its low cost, moreover with better pig performance and pork quality than the economically unjustifiable maize-based diets. The Cambrough breed showed better overall performance than crosses. This breed should be promoted in response to the growing demand for pork in Uganda, and especially in regard to production of leaner meat that many consumers prefer today.  

The research was presented at conferences organised by the National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO) and Makerere University, Uganda. Six demonstration units were established and a piggery farmer field school was hosted at each unit from which 105 farmers got piglets (during project life). It is still evolving under farmers’ drive (now at 601). A book was published in the local language and two videos were produced and broadcast by NARO. Piggery was taken up by 208 households as a result of this project and 60+ existing piggeries were expanded.