THE lack of pig slaughtering facilities is hampering the growth of the piggery industry and ultimately the scaling up of local meat production.
Lesotho only has one small pig slaughtering facility in Berea.
The community-owned slaughter slab was been set up through the support of the Smallholder Agricultural Development Programme (SADP) implemented by the Minister of Agriculture and Food Security.
Lesotho relies on imported pork, with minimal local meat production mostly supported by backyard or informal slaughtering facilities.
Pig farmers this week said the lack of slaughtering infrastructure was one of the reasons why they are unable to tap into the formal pork market. They said this also leads to significantly higher meat prices in the country than neighbouring South Africa.
Matlabukele Rampine, a pig farmer from Butha-Buthe said he takes his animals on a two-hour trip to Berea for slaughtering as there are no such facilities in his district.
He said this costs him additional transportation expenses that he unfortunately has to pass onto the consumer.
“Lack of slaughtering facilities is a challenge to me because I have to travel to Berea to slaughter my pigs as there is no facility in Butha-Buthe,” Mr Rampine said.
Another piggery farmer, ‘Malisema Masheane, said she wants to expand her meat production but is concerned about the lack of slaughtering infrastructure in the country.
“Even if I could have many pigs, I would not be able to sell them in the formal market like chain stores because they will ask where I slaughtered them from for health safety.”
She implored the government to support them by establishing an accredited facility in the same manner that it established a national abattoir for cattle and sheep as state property. The facility has since been privatised and now operates as Meraka Abattoir.
“We are asking the government to build us an abattoir or even a small slaughter house where we slaughter properly with certification.
“The national abattoir only services cattle and sheep farmers; which is a different process from that which is involved in piggery slaughtering. Piggery and poultry need a special slaughtering process that is different from cattle and sheep.
“Because of lack of slaughtering facilities, we find ourselves at the mercy of buyers who are willing to support us only because they understand what we have invested in producing the pigs,’ Ms Masheane said.
In 2018 the Lesotho National Development Corporation (LNDC) announced that it had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with an international company Number 2 Piggeries (N2P). The MoU was meant to establish a modern piggery industry in Lesotho. The project is estimated to attract an initial investment of M100 million.
For her part, Likopo Maputsoe, the piggery division manager in the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, said they encourage farmers to come together to take advantage of the second installment of SADP of the ministry to apply for funding to set up the facilities.
SADP II aims to support increased adoption of climate smart agricultural technologies in Lesotho’s agriculture sector, enhance commercialisation and improve dietary diversity.
It provides matching grants to farmers and agro-processors to finance investments for increasing on-farm productivity and post-harvest infrastructure and management.
“There is an SADP project in the ministry that we encourage farmers to send in applications for assistance for such facilities. It has already assisted the Maqhaka community to set up a mini abattoir to do their slaughtering.”