Day 4 started with our team visiting Festus Che and his wife Gladys on their farm in Bafut. They have four children, ranging in age from 3 to 11, and have been raising pigs for 15 years. In many ways, Festus and his family are like most farmers in Cameroon. Before getting involved with Heifer International in 2007, their farm was very dirty and pigs were dying, but that all turned around after the training they received from Heifer on nutrition, housing and marketing.
Today, Festus can afford to send his children to school, pay for medical bills and even enjoy a few luxuries like plastering his house and owning a TV and radio, all thanks to his ability to sell his pigs for money. He now keeps precise records around input costs, feed use and vaccinations, and hopes to expand his three-pig farm to five soon.
As we learned more details of Festusâ€™ operation, it painted a much clearer picture of what day-to-day hog farming is like in Cameroon. For starters, Festus raises his pigs exclusively for market; theyâ€™re not used to directly feed his family. In addition to pigs, they also grow corn, beans and ground nuts. Manure from the pigs is used for their gardenâ€”by making use of an enclosed area theyâ€™re able to capture the manure for their fields. The enclosure also helps protect the cropland, keep off predators and better control disease. When setting up his farm, Festus had to buy the wheel drum feeder and wood for the facilities, while Heifer provided the tin roof. He buys all feedstuffs from Bamenda with money he gets from selling a pig, or odd jobs like construction. Festusâ€™ pigs go through a bag of feed (40 kilos) a week, feeding twice a day on a dry feed mixed in water. The feed includes ground wheat, cotton seed, SB, corn and kernel cakes.
This is Festusâ€™ third crop since the African Swine Flu hit, and his herd includes Poland Chinese, York and Spot. His sow has five to15 piglets and farrows twice a year; Festus sells after three litters. He also maintains his own boars and doesnâ€™t castrate the males.
In contrast to what many of us on the trip were accustomed to, Festus doesnâ€™t determine a sell date for the pigs based on a target weight or age. Instead, the selling date is determined by when the family needs money for other expenses.
A young pig sells for 20,000 Cameroon francs (about USD 40.00) and a market pig sells for 90,000 francs (USD 200.00). Cull sows sell for more than market pigs because the farmers are paid by size and weight of the pigs.
Overall, the visit to Festusâ€™ farm was enlightening and we were grateful for his familyâ€™s hospitality. Weâ€™d like to invite you to continue following us on this amazing journey through Cameroon by joining us right here on this blog. More to come soon!