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PIGGERY: An under explored goldmine

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PIGGERY:  An under explored goldmine

Tapping into piggery business

 

Despite the filth, stress and other irritations of pig rearing, it is a very lucrative business. In this report, Sandra Oboh and Ijeoma Okeke enumerate many sides of this venture

 

It is a common knowledge that pig is one of the dirtiest animals on earth because of it swine nature, reason majority find it hard and get scared to associate with it. Ironically, it is a fortune making venture that many seem to be ignorant about. As one popular adage puts it, “money does not smell, neither does it care about clean or dirty businesses.”

 

Long words, short, the essence of money is inestimable. So is the piggery farm venture, it stinks, nauseates, irritates and even resents, but it is a business that brings about good fortune for those who are courageous and patient enough to venture into it, based on interest, time and availability of funds.

 

There is a city tucked somewhere, away in Giwa/Oke-Aro along Matogun road, called Anuoluwa Piggery Farm. It is a large city where enormous transaction goes on, where different currencies of the world cross hands of different colours. It is measuring on several hundreds of acres and hectares of land in between Lagos and Ogun border.

 

It is less than 30 minutes’ drive from Agege and about 10 minutes’ drive from Iju, Ishaga. It is said to be the one and only Piggery farm in Lagos and possibly biggest in West Africa, run by individuals but on government settlement For the one week that New Telegraph visited the farm, it was observed that the piggery farm has more than 10,000 workers busy on the farm from different angles. While some work as the dirt parkers, some work as the vet, butchers, feeds keeper, pen attendants, etc.

 

Ironically, the farm seems not too popular but it is actually making waves amidst its patrons. Interestingly, foreigners are among its patrons. They come in droves for exchange of their currency for Nigerian pork for their currency. And food vendors who put pork as part of their cooking recipe.

 

The pig city has many compartments that generate billions of naira. As quiet and prosperous as the business is, it is not really public knowledge as it should be, but its patrons are swimming in money, building houses, changing their cars, taking care of their families, able to send their children to choice universities.

 

In fact, New Telegraph learnt from most of the patrons they encountered on the farm that it was the latest (legal) money making ventures. Varieties of activities are carried out on daily basis with its sole aim of pig farming and tending to the pigs, children carrying feeds, women attending to the pigs and washing of the pig pens and slaughtering.

 

 

So far, the piggery farm has created job opportunities to people within and outside the environs of Lagos and this farm has been in existence for past 27 years. In fact, it became core business for some people, while it is as part-time job for a few persons.

 

Because of its huge profit margin and fast turnover of money invested, a teacher for instance, had to resign from her teaching job, to face it fully. According to her, since she left her teaching job for the piggery business, she has never had course to look back or regret that decision at all.

 

“My former employer owed me salaries of many months and it was very frustrating. You won’t believe my high level of achievement within a short time frame of doing this pig business. I have been doing it for six months now,” she testified. Delielie Mowakere, 45, used to be a debtor since the death of her husband six years ago but when she embraced the offer to work as an attendant on the farm, it has been testimony galore.

 

“I thank God for my family, my children and I do not have to beg for alms before we could feed. I am a widow, my husband died six years ago. Although, it was hectic taking care of five children as single handedly but when I realised, I could work in this piggery farm as an attendant, I embraced the offer and it has been eight straight years of good achievements and testimonies.

 

I used to be a debtor since my husband died, but ever since I started this work, I have been able to pay all my debts, train and still training my children in school. Some of my children work here in this farm as well, to earn a living for themselves and assist me too.”

 

Mowakere earns N14,000 monthly on the farm, aside other small jobs she does on the farm, hence, she earns extra pay.

 

“There is money in this business. I have seen people buy cars and lands from this same business. But that is for those who have a farm in this place unlike me that is just a pen attendant,” she said. For Gabriel Adeleke, 23, working on the farm started as a hustle for him but it turned out to be what saw him through the four walls of secondary school that he attended and wrote his WAEC.

 

But he said he had to step down for continuity to higher institution because he has family to take care of. Gradually, he became a supervisor and agent to customers who want to buy pens, all kinds of feeds, animals.

 

“I buy and sell pigs too, also put new client who do not understand the business through. I will remain in this business; I can spend my last cash on this business because I understand everything in it perfectly,” he said.

 

Oluyemi Daudu, a BSC holder from a state University was spotted butchering pigs. He was not even ready to spare a moment for chat. But he managed to tell his story briefly.

 

“I am 28 years of age, I have been doing this since my secondary school days, even before I gained admission into the university and this business has helped foot my university bills. It’s been 12 years that I started this business. I love to work and have time to do other things, I have other businesses I operate on, and was able to establish them through this butchering work.

 

Instead of waiting for white collar jobs, I embrace this opportunity and it has yielded me unimaginable profits. Bisi Akeem popularly called Iya Anu, a pork dealer on the farm expressed that she has inexplicable joy doing the business because it has helped her to achieve her aim in life.

 

“I actually own a house of my own through this business and I pray for more to come in Jesus name Amen. For those waiting for their husbands to always feed them is not good, find something doing than been idle. When you have a business, your husband will respect and even love you more, the society will also respect you as well,” she said.

 

One of the workers, Vivian Isaac who packs feed as a means to survive was seen with her son packing feeds. Talking to New Telegraph, she said, “I have been working here for some months now, I started last year September. When a friend informed me       about this job, I had no choice but to join, I wash pen, bath the pigs, also pack feed, my son is assisting in this job whenever he is free. The work is a good work as long as it helps to put food on my table. Eating in a day is an achievement for me and my son, with this job, we are able to provide food for ourselves and it’s better than doing nothing, I believe this job is for the main time.”

 

Children are not left out of the fortune making ventures. From all ages, the children were between 9 and 17 years, were seen working in various sector of the farm. They all chorused to New Telegraph that they enjoyed working on the farm especially as there was reward for what they do. It was just their own way of supporting their parents.

 

Some of them were seen working side by side their parents, mothers especially. Seeing the children dressed in tattered, shabby dress, they drew pity from visitors to the farm. In fact, they looked stressful and pitiable when they carry feeds for customers and farmers inside the piggery farm.

 

 

Most of them are students of secondary schools and early years in higher institutions, trying to survive and meet up with most of their daily and school needs. Kola Aladun,14, a JSS 2 student of Oke-Aro Community High School, told New Telegraph he came to hustle on the farm and that his parents were of his decision to work there.

 

“Although, they have told me to limit it because, I’m a student, so that I can concentrate on my studies. My earnings here depend on how many bags of feed I carry per day; most times I go home with at least N2, 000 and that is on a day that I am tired. I am not happy working here, I love to concentrate fully on my studies and become useful in life. I do this work so as to assist my parents in paying my school fees.

 

I go to school Monday to Friday and make sure I don’t miss work as well, I resume work 4pm and most times, I have body pains. My boss is very helpful and does not owe me a dime but instead, he gives me more money most times this is the benefit that most of other boys do not enjoy from their bosses.”

 

Emmanuel Blessing, 18, told New Telegraph that he joined the piggery business in 2015. The work, he said was stressful for him but he endures it, especially as the fortune of the business isn’t really favourable disposed to him. He said he can only save up to N20, 000 in a month after deduction of his daily.

 

“I will love to stop this business if I get a better offer; I need money to enroll for my WAEC. I earn N1,500 daily, my parent lives in the village and do not have money to carter for themselves.

 

 

Reason, I came to Oke-Aro to stay with my uncle before I got this opportunity to work and make money to further my education.” “I have been in this business for one year now and I don’t have anything else to do other than earn a living, I need money to enroll for my SSCE, I am in SS2. My parents know about this job that I’m into. I feel pained but I can’t stop for now because this is the only job I do to meet up my financial needs.

 

My earnings vary with customers, most times some customers will pay me below what I worked for, instead of N1,500, they will pay me N1,000 while some other customers do the opposite, they give me above my charges. Honestly, I really do not like this job, I need help. For 17-year-old Moses Oluwasewun, he would have loved the job  but he could not stand the abuses that followed the job.

 

“Most times people use abusive words on parents who are unable to carter for their children; some even go as far as using most unsavory word to describe them as been incompetent enough to taking good care of their own children.

 

They seem to forget the popular adage that ‘all fingers are not equal.’ I still think some parents should be given some accolades for working and toiling so hard for their children, going extra miles for them and bringing the best to their tables,” he stated.

 

 

Oluwaseun explained further that Piggery farm actually did justice to some hard working women who don’t have a pen, but chose to be pig attendant, and not minding the resentful smell oozing out from the pig pen but rather happy about the fact that they can actually contribute or shoulder the welfare of their families.

 

With the resentful stench oozing out of the pig farm, it has thus far produced billionaires, who first started on a small scale but now investing millions in the business. To invest such amount, New Telegraph learnt that it required four basic things to be successful in the business namely; time, funds, patience and interest.

 

 

President of the Anuoluwa piggery farm, Mrs Adaeze Ejenebe, told New Telegraph that she had been in the farm for past 17 years, “Pig farming is a progressive business for people that really know what they want. The business is really lucrative for those that truly have interest in it.

 

A lot of people here have benefited from this piggery farm. Last year February, I bought my Lexus jeep from this business and that’s why I have the logo of the farm on my jeep.”

 

She explained further that, there were people who jumped into the business, and after sometime abandoned it because they lack the understanding and ‘pros’ and ‘cons’ of the piggery farming.

 

 

“No one is an island, and for anyone to succeed in any business, he or she needs to have a mentor or coach which, applies to this piggery farm. In this business, you need a mentor to put you through before embarking on it, but some people are ignorant of this fact, you need able hands and commitment to do the business, when you don’t have the right people by your side the farm will go down,” she said.

 

 

Challenges

 

Ejenebe said that every business had its good and bad times. In piggery farming, there are lots of challenges and sicknesses that befall the pigs which ranges from foot rot, swine fever, swell, and minor sicknesses but treatable.

 

Talking about ‘Foot rot’, she said it’s one of the deadly diseases known to attack pigs but manageable and treated if discovered on time. But Swine fever, she said, was the worst because it’s an air borne disease that spread like wildfire and affect all the animals in the farm.

 

According to her, when the animals turn red, it means nothing good or positive can be done to stop it.

 

She emphasised that there is no remedy to eradicate this particular disease when it breaks out. “It wipes off all the animals and one will have to start all over again. During this period of their sickness, we lose millions of naira, but we always believe that in business when you fall, you must strive to rise up again better and stronger but most people do not have the strength and are too fragile at heart.

 

They can’t stand seeing everything they have worked for, go down the drain and this affect them adversely and because they cannot stand it, they would rather leave the business halfway.

 

She also reveals that another challenge they face was money. “You cannot run this business without money, money is very essential because if we don’t eat, our animals must eat.

 

So compulsorily, their feeding is the challenge that we have as well, there are different activities going on in the farm that require money. Activities like washing and feeding the pigs, artisan that packs the feeds to their designated pens, bricklayers, carpenters, vet doctors and so many.”

 

According to Daudu, the challenges they face is quite overwhelming because at times they have times of booms when supply is higher than demand and so its causes low purchase, “as such, we end up losing raw meats. Another challenge we face is disease outbreak but thank God that the government is really working on it now and the disease is minimal now. I just love my business,” he said.

 

Process

 

Kunle Abayomi, one of the farm workers explained to New Telegraph that the piggery business requires gradual steps to break even. For one to be involved in the piggery business, there must be high level of patience displayed and it is not expected to yield profit immediately. Otherwise, the investor will be frustrated out almost on arrival.

 

 

 

 

He explained that the process in piggery farm was very tedious but they start with breeding. It is a process where the boar (male) and sow (female) mate to produce babies which are the piglets. “We don’t put the boar and sows together, only if we want to crossbreed them and the pigs are sold in kilograms (Kg), the price of the pigs varies with the kilograms,” he said.

Abayomi also says that they are very keen with the type of foods they feed the pigs so that they grow well and weighty. The qualities of foods given to them make them look different from other pigs found outside. The foods range from palm kernel cake (PKC) that is grinded, cassava peels, corn, bread to give them the essential carbohydrates they deserve and corn which is also added to their daily diets because of the fiber content in it, which is also good for them.

According to Abayomi, the pigs are thoroughly nurtured and not allowed to be seen outside the farm premises. If caught, it would be seized and the owner would be asked to pay a fine.
However, he stated that, “there are different people with different styles of running the business. The whole of this place is not owned by one person, it is owned by different individuals and it is a multi-billionaire project. He explained that the tents were numbered in routes like M, K, I, L, F, B, D and so on.”

The resentful smell for them on the farm, he said they regard it as money, even though they wash the place daily, “Thursday is our environmental day when all the owners will also be around washing his or her own pen early in the morning. In the process of washing, they don’t bring out the pigs, they just sweep the faeces out and make use of water only, that’s all,” he explained.

Adebowale Michael, another worker on the farm explained the processes to involve rearing of pigs. “We start from the pregnant pigs and what we do here is mostly pig rearing because it is the main thing for us, when we buy pigs most especially the sow, we make sure they mate with the boar so that they give birth to piglets, four months after. So the piglets grow to winner’s size, and to semi-growers and to Alba plus which are the big ones that are ready for sale.

According to Michael’s explanation, the pigs must be up to seven months to attract sales, “we sell the pigs stage by stage and so the number of scales will determine the amount we sell them. The business is convenient for us and money lucrative than any other business,” he said.

 

By Michael’s explanation, the attendants have full custody of the pigs, they make sure they are fed twice daily, bathed and taken to the vet doctors when sick and the drugs administered to them as and when due. The medications include Aily, iron, keplement which is, anti-biotic, and even multivitamins and so many other drugs for different sickness and the animals’ wellness.
He added: “When you have 10 pigs, you can feed them in a day with two bags of feed and palm kernel cake (Pkc). The Pkc is made from the back of palm kernel which is grinded into powder form, while the oil extracted is what use today. The Pkc is the waste and fat while other feeds look like alcohol. So when we mix the alcohol with the Pkc, it turns out to the feeds that bring out the fat in the pigs when they eat it.”

He also explained the mating process involved in cross breeding, when the nipple of a sow turns red it’s a sign that she needs a Boar for mating.

As earlier described, the farm is a large city packed full of different people from all walks of life and with different activities. Despite the irritating environment with terrible stench, there are many food vendors on the farm of which majority of them are suspected to cook with pork. Adebimpe Busayo, a food vendor on the pig farm said; “I have been working in this farm for more than six years, the place smells but it has become normal to us such that it is not affecting us. During rainy season, it is not easy but we have to cope, I sell food daily to the workers here and it is not that there is no place to sell, but right here I sell well because this place is like a city on its own.”

However, Fadepo Omolaja, the farm manager of Oke-Aro piggery farm, told New Telegraph that he had been the manager of the farm for past three years. “It is not easy to manage a pig farm but we thank God that we are able to triumph. This pig farm is one of the biggest in Africa and it has been in existence for past 20 years.

Like the popular Shoprite, Farmers from different parts of the country, in their hundreds were trooping into the piggery farm. From Delta, Warri, Imo, Abakaliki, Ogun, Ibadan, and many other states were present on the farm, all negotiating according to the strength of their negotiating powers on the farm. In fact, a very big lorry conveying a huge drift of pigs was spotted leaving the piggery farm to their destinations.

According to Omolaja, majority of the patrons use the pork meat for different purposes like suya, hotdogs, corn- beef, porkpie, assorted soups and stews.

 

Consumers

Consumers expressed their different opinions on what why they enjoy eating pork and how they prepare it for customers especially those who run a restaurants.

Mrs Ekperusi from Ughelli LGA, Delta State, a pork meat seller believes that pork meat is the best meat and better than beef. “Although, it has much fat but when prepared well, you will enjoy the meat more than another meat because it is sweeter, in fact, some police who patronise my restaurant always tell me it pork meat is good and healthy for the body because they believe that it cleanses the body from some ailments.”

She added; “I enjoy eating pork meat as well and since 1987 September to be precise I have been into this business, eating with my family, the only bad thing I see in pig is the excess of fats which is not too good for the body. The pork business is a lucrative one and I have achieved a whole lot from it and I am still doing it.”

 

Vetinary

One of the veterinary doctors who is also a farmer, Eben Damilola, highlighted the main medical challenges of the pigs as numerous diseases such as swine fever, foot rot. “Last year, the foot rot killed a lot of pigs in the farm. My pigs gave birth to 50 piglets (baby Pigs), only 20 of the pigs survived as a result of the disease. Swine fever, the pigs turn red, it is contagious and the disease wipes out all the pigs. It happened in the 1980s, the foot rot is not dangerous like the swine fever, Gentamicin and other anti-biotic curb it.

Damilola expressed fear about the road leading to the pig city and inside. “Our worst fear is during rainy season, you won’t even want to enter the farm, but we farmers have no choice but to manage because we must work. Piggery is very interesting and lucrative; the only thing is that there are ways one can do it and make profit, can also lose. Most people run into it and run out, you must take your time to study and know more about the business and be always available, with the little knowledge and god by my side, I am able to make profits and do other things. I started with a pen but now I have so many pens and even opened a big shop to sell pig feeds and drugs. My business has been expanding, it’s only a matter of time and patience.”

 

Nutritional benefits of pork

According to findings, pork has plenty nutritional benefits to the body.

Protein Macronutrient: This nutrient provides essential amino acids. Building block for bone, muscles, skin and blood. It is also good for growth and development and it is a key component to help the body repair cells and make new cells. It plays a role in the immune system and in making enzymes, hormones and other body chemicals.

Selenium Mineral/Trace Element: This helps to protect the body cells from damage, and also plays a role in regulating thyroid hormone metabolism.

Niacin B Vitamin: It helps convert food into energy, essential for healthy skin, it builds blood cells, brain and nervous system and also helps to maintain a healthy cardiovascular system.

Phosphorus Mineral: this nutritional value helps build and protect strong bones and teeth, it is key to maintaining normal pH in the body. Phosphorus minerals plays a role in shuttling nutrients in and out of body cells.
Thiamin B Vitamin: Helps convert food into energy, critical for growth, development and function of body cells, its helps maintain a healthy cardiovascular system.

Vitamin B6 B Vitamin: Needed for enzyme reactions involved in metabolism, it’s important for brain development during pregnancy and infancy and also plays a role in immune function.

Riboflavin B Vitamin: Important for the growth, development and function of body cells. Helps convert food into energy, which is also important in maintaining normal vision and in preventing cataracts.

Zinc Mineral/Trace Element: Found in all body cells, it’s also critical for proper growth, development and reproduction and helps wounds heal, which is also needed to make proteins and DNA, it helps immune system to fight off bacteria and viruses.

 

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