Shopping for Pork

2009-04-03 00:00

I CUT my teeth on pigs at Gwebi Agricultural College in Zimbabwe many years ago, which was a great introduction to these mad bits of meat that trot around wiggling their tails. After running a large piggery single-handedly in North Berwick, not far from Edinburgh, where you soon learn what hard work is, my return to Gwebi as an animal husbandry lecturer reinforced this knowledge of pigs.

Soon after arriving in South Africa, meeting my beloved in Pretoria and requiring a job, it was a small step to becoming a pig specialist at Irene Research Station. Those were the days when Irene was a great research centre.

So it comes about that pigs are indelibly written into the cracks in my hands and also my olfactory senses, forever. But that is in the dim past. Nevertheless, it has been a pleasure watching the pig industry develop in conjunction with some government support and also independently. The pig producers are always prepared to go the extra mile to market their products and also pay for the marketing. Today, nothing has changed.

With the 2010 Soccer World Cup around the corner, the KwaZulu-Natal pork producers have launched a new “soccer themed” campaign in the hope of educating consumers on the benefits of eating “fresh South African Pork”. This coincides with the national campaign, which consists of TV adverts, magazine articles and adverts, newspapers, billboards and radio exposure.

KwaZulu-Natal has taken the initiative to follow the new advert campaign through by taking it to consumer level. Look out for the KwaZulu-Natal Pork Producers’ Organisation (KZNPPO) demo women who will be cooking up a storm in local shops. They are sporting new banners and handing out free soccer balls. They have new recipes to hand out, as well as booklets with new research showing that pork is a modern, nutritious and 100% safe meal choice, not to mention that pork is approved as part of the heart and stroke foundation eating plan. Look out for these in-store demonstrations throughout KZN over the next six weeks.

The KZNPPO is the official organisation for pork producers in the province. It represents 60 pig producers with 17 000 sows, and with sows producing 20 piglets each per year, this is a staggering 340 000 piglets per annum.

The organisation aims to promote all matters pertaining to pig farming in the province. It also promotes, supports or opposes legislation or other factors affecting the pig industry.

Membership is open to anyone in KZN who is interested in breeding or processing pigs. A prominent pig breeder, Barry Gibbs, is the current chairman of the organisation. Anyone interested in pig production or the organisation can contact Hayley Jackson at the KZNPPO offices in Pietermaritburg at 033 342 8592 or at kznppo@futurenet.

During this past year it has been a pleasure working with a dedicated, enthusiastic group of eight Zulu people who are determined to become pig farmers. Unfortunately their concerted efforts and mine, over this past 12 months, to begin pig production have come to nothing. The trouble is that the Department of Land Affairs state that they cannot engage with these potential farmers unless they have already found a suitable farm and signed a sale agreement. Knowing that the government procedure to settle emerging farmers usually takes three years, no farm owner in his right mind is going to sign a sale agreement with these guys. So how do we get new capable farmers onto the land? For this group it is a no-win situation from the beginning and yet thousands of people have been settled on commercially viable farms and have not produced anything. The government has even admitted to this.

It has been suggested that the entire land settlement policy has been introduced exactly the wrong way round. Firstly you should identify those who have the potential to farm commercially, then find them farms and then support them in their efforts and not the other way around.

Thanks go to those commercial pig farmers who have supported the group of eight men in all their efforts to settle on a farm.

May the KZNPPO be successful in its marketing programme and one day may the group of eight succeed in their determined efforts. Their next stop will have to be the pork producers’ offices.

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