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Women's pig business brings home the bacon

Written by Noluthando Mkhize
When the Department of Agriculture paid out villagers of Flagstaff in the Eastern Cape for their pigs that were culled due to swine flu, in 2008 a group of women decided to use this money to start Zithulele Piggery Cooperative.

Nosapo Masombhoti, a member of Zithulele Piggery, with some of their pigs.“We thought it was a good idea to take the money that we had received from pigs that were culled to buy more pigs and start a business. Only this time we would take care of the pigs with regular vaccination, proper food and keep them in a confined environment,” said Nosapo Masombothi, who is a member of the cooperative.

In 2006, parts of South Africa were faced with a swine flu outbreak believed to come from pigs.

According to the Department of Agriculture, an intensive campaign was launched to combat the outbreak in the province by culling large numbers of infected pigs and compensating the owners.

Zithulele Piggery was founded from this, and it is run by five women who have 16 pigs. Masombothi says she loves farming and believes it has the potential to create job opportunities in the area.

“When we started our business we initially had about 30 pigs. Since then we’ve managed to sell to the local community and local butchers.”

The price for each pig ranges from R250 to R1 000 depending on the size.

A typical day for members of the cooperative begins with checking whether the pigs are fed as per their schedule, administering vaccinations on certain days and other members going out to market the business to potential buyers.

Masombothi, a former shopkeeper, says they have big plans for the business, which include buying more pigs and supplying bigger companies.

She adds that the agricultural sector is a key for development in any village.

“It is up to us as local people to look after ourselves and create our own jobs. This country has come very far in terms of our democracy and development in general. We now have a lot of opportunities that were not there in the past. It’s up to every South African to grab those opportunities.”

The cooperative also received support from the Ingquza Hill Municipality with information on how to start and run a business.

Ingquza Hill Municipality’s Director for Planning and Development Owethu Pantshwa, said Zithulele Piggery received training and mentor-ship facilitated by the municipality.

“There is a need for local people to open various forms of businesses. On a quarterly basis we sit with all local small, medium and micro enterprises for information sharing sessions and we also advise them of the opportunities available”.

"We encourage local people to open businesses due to the huge unemployment rate and also given the potential the area has for agriculture, forestry and tourism," Pantswa said.

According to the Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries, the South African pork industry contributed to around 2,15 per cent to the agricultural sector in 2012.

The gross value of production of pork is dependent on the quantity produced and the price received by farmers.