Planet Earth is a huge food machine. Over the years, its has consistently created enviable sustenance for her inhabitants aided strongly by human ingenuity. Contemporary innovations like factory farming made to maximize production output have helped it keep up with the planet’s teeming population, leaping from 2.5 billion in 1950 to 7 billion today. Pork is the most widely eaten meat in the world. Pork accounts for over 40% of the world’s meat consumption and is followed by poultry (34.1%) and beef (21%) and others (4.7%).
Pig farming involves the raising and breeding of pigs majorly for food. China leads by far in the worldwide production of pork, with over 50 million metric tons of pork produced in 2016 alone more than twice as high as the meat produced in the EU. The United States is third in global pork production, producing 11.3 million metric tons in 2016. There is hope that Chinese income levels will continue to increase, leading to continuing increases in Chinese pork consumption. If continued, pork consumption growth in China will have large impacts on pork demand (1.4 billion people in China compared to 318 million in the U.S.). Chinese pork consumption already accounts for 50% of worldwide consumption.
Now Africa is beginning to come into the mix. According to estimates from the USDA, South Africa is the world’s 20th largest pork producer at 245,000 metric tonnes per year. It is by far the largest producer on the African continent. Last year alone, South Africa exported 13,500 metric tonnes of pork, or 5.5% of its total production, mostly to neighboring countries such as Namibia, Mozambique, Lesotho and Swaziland.
In West Africa, pork consumption is on a steady increase. In fact, FAO estimates that the consumption of pork in Africa will grow by an average of 3.3 percent yearly until 2050. Nigeria has the largest stock (6.6 Million pigs) but ranks only 22nd worldwide. In many respects, pigs are ideal in this regard. They have fast growth rates and good feed-to-meat conversion ratios and are relatively easy to raise and do not require much space; have prolific breeding potential; and are docile. These factors not only lead to increased profitability but also will surely assist in meeting the growing demand for meat in future. Pork consumption is likely to increase even more due to lower production costs.
Today’s domesticated pig has most of the qualities that the modern farmer looks for in livestock, including high profitability. Going by the stats of pork production, piggery should be considered for quick returns and the production of surplus food in Nigeria, to bring about the diversification of the Nigerian economy rather than expending billions of dollars annually in importation of frozen fish and meat.
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