Brining home the bacon

September 2014 OM Lake Tanganyika started a farm with two pigs, today they have 78.

With each passing moment their squeals swelled into a combined roar. Knowing the meal was late, albeit only by half-an-hour, they wanted to make sure they had not been forgotten. 

As if anyone could forget such a racket. And if the noise somehow failed to draw attention, the stench surely would. 

Seventy-eight pigs wallowing under the hot African sun are hard to miss. 

Sound and smell aside, the sight of such a number of pigs is uncommon in Mpulungu, a Zambian fishing village along Lake Tanganyika. 

With a high poverty level around the lake, the OM Lake Tanganyika team called in Farming God’s Way instructor Andre to help come up with ideas of how to sustain local missionaries, as well as raise the standard of living in the villages where they work. 

Andre advised that the simplest solution would be to rear animals that reproduce quickly and easily; suggesting ducks, rabbits and pigs.

On a plot of land at the edges of Mpulungu, the OM team set to work. 

The ducks made little headway. 

The rabbits found a poisonous tree and died. 

The pigs, however, exceeded everyone's expectations. 

In just over a year, two pigs became 78. 

“It’s been experimental learning,” admitted Christopher Kasale, Field Leader at the lake. “We learnt a lot. The first type of feed we used was not very good, so the mortality rate was high. We changed the feed and over the past three months we have lost only one piglet.” 

Eating a mixture of sunflower cakes, maize and fish bran twice a day, the pigs also feast on bruised and overripe mangos that are no longer sellable. 

Two of the Honest Boys, a group of boys, now young men, developed to be leaders and community changers, live and work on the farm with the help of a few boys from the surrounding villages. 

The boys were picked for their willingness to learn, rather than their willingness to work.    

“Some boys have a piece-job mentality. ‘Let me go and do a piece-job and then get paid.’ We want boys who say ‘I want to save.’ Those are the boys we are looking for,” said Christopher. 

No one is paid to work on the farm, or at least not in a conventional way. After a period of time, each boy is allowed to pick a pig of his own. When he needs funds, he can sell his pig.

With only two pig farms in the area, there is a large market for pork, both to individuals as well as stores. Slaughtering once a month, and selling for 40 kwacha per kilogram ($4.28 USD), the target pig is about eight months old and weighs in at 110 kilograms. 

The current pens were designed to hold a maximum of 100 swine, a number that will soon be reached. 

“(How much the project has grown) is a testament to the commitment of the boys,” Christopher attributed. “When we needed a security guard, the boys said they would sleep here instead. They built the barns and the fences.” 

“The whole thing is not a business, it is life,” continued Christopher. “We want to introduce life to these young boys, so they begin to realize that life should be profitable and productive. Not all sell, buy, sell. But where you have everything around you. You have pigs, you have a vegetable garden, chickens. If you want to eat a chicken, you buy it from yourself. That is our target.” 

Five families in the area, as well as local missionaries in two nearby villages, have already started to replicate the farm’s model. 

“Our system is very simple,” explained Christopher. “So when someone comes by they think ‘oh, I can keep two pigs as well. I just have to get some sticks and make a fence.’ that’s how we want it.

The bottom line of (everything we do) is discipleship and leadership development. You can use pigs, soccer, farming, baking. It’s all life coaching.”

 

By Rebecca Rempel