Take a 360° tour of a small, thriving pig farm in the green hills of Lao PDR
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Take a 360° tour of a small, thriving pig farm in the green hills of Lao PDREstimated reading time: 3 minutes
In the tiny village of Manh, nestled in the green uplands of Lao PDR, Boun Tham’s pig farm is thriving. Today, he has a drift of 12 healthy animals, who spend their days enjoying the spacious new shed he’s built for them.
Only a few years ago, this success would have been unimaginable for Boun Tham. He’s reared pigs for much of his life, working hard for his family and his animals. He’d left school after grade seven, in fact, to help his father around the farm. Yet he, like many of his fellow villagers, found the business to be quite challenging. Keeping his pigs healthy and well-fed was a constant struggle, and he and many of his neighbours found themselves unable to rely on a steady income or enjoy a diverse and nutritious diet for themselves.
In 2018, the IFAD-supported AFN project came to Manh. AFN, an initiative financed by the G20’s Global Agriculture and Food Security Programme and implemented by the Lao Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, is designed to address the challenges faced by many low-income rural dwellers in Lao PDR’s upland regions.
The AFN staff began by helping the villagers draw up development plans built around addressing the needs they themselves saw as most urgent. Based on the plan, AFN staff introduced agricultural production groups – that is, groups of small-scale farmers who come together to develop their businesses, share inputs and learn new techniques.
When Boun Tham heard about AFN, he signed up right away. He joined a group of 18 households that established an agricultural production group specifically focused on pig rearing.
In March 2019, AFN awarded his group grants of 2.6 million kips (about US$315) per household. Boun Tham immediately invested his share in three healthy gilts – young female pigs – that he used to breed piglets, and in materials to build a pig shed.
AFN also arranged a training session for group members to learn best practices and modern techniques in pig farming. Boun Tham was eager to learn and apply his acquired knowledge. Soon, his pigs were happier and healthier, and the drift began to multiply.
The road to prosperity wasn’t exactly smooth. Soon after the group was established, swine flu came to Manh village. But with the information he’d received from AFN, Boun Tham knew what to do. He acted quickly, selling off his whole drift except for one pregnant gilt, which he kept in isolation, well away from the village. She managed to avoid infection – and once the swine flu had finally gone, she was the key to helping Boun Tham rebuild his drift.
Since joining the agricultural production group, Boun Tham has sold 15 animals and earned 8.5 million kips (approximately US$1,020). Another six went to his family for home consumption.
Today, as he looks over his healthy pigs, Boun Tham is satisfied. “Now, I am happy,” he says. “I understand that by doing this correctly, I can earn a stable income and have some pork left over for my family. I would like to encourage my fellow villagers to adopt this activity, as it gives quick returns.”
Boun Tham has reinvested his earnings in his business and in his family’s well-being. He’s also bought two goats to diversify the household income stream – and he’s building a shed for them, too. Now that his income has stabilized, he’s able to buy nutritious food for his household, pay the electricity bills and cover school fees for his two young children.
Learn more about IFAD’s work in Lao PDR.
Publication date: 24 June 2022