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25 Technicians from 13 districts of Uganda undergo a one-week’s training on Pig Artificial Insemination (AI) at Makerere University Agricultural Research Institute Kabanyolo (MUARIK)


Makerere University Pig Artificial Insemination specialist Robert Natumanya (in blue coat) conducting one of the practical lessons on Artificial Insemination in pigs 

  • Pig consumption on the rise; Uganda ranked No. I in Africa
  • On average each person consumes 3.5 kg of pork per year
  • Consumption overrunning production, hence the need for AI technology  to increase pig production

25 technicians from 13 districts of Uganda are undergoing training on Pig Artificial Insemination (AI)  at Makerere University Agricultural Research Institute Kabanyolo (MUARIK) under the project titled, “Improving pig productivity for better income, Nutrition and Food Security in Uganda".

The project is being led by Assoc. Prof. Donald Rugira Kugonza from the Department of Agricultural Sciences funded by the National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO) at an estimated budget of Shs. of  shs.170 million.  


The 25 trainees pose  for a group photograph after the opening session in Kabanyolo.

Initially, NARO  in the first phase injected  shs. 227 million where 30 technicians were trained.  Farmers were also trained on how to detect heat. A milk replacer diet  was  developed and master students trained. 

In this extension of commercialization of Pig AI,  the university is to  train 50 technicians,  set up distribution centres and replemish the boars and studs . Already, pure breeds  have been bought  and farmers will also be trained.

After the training, AI kits will be distributed to the respective districts to scale up the Pig AI technology.

The one week training was opened on 21st August 2017 at the Continuing Agricultural Education Centre at the MUARIK.  Other source persons are from NAADS, NAGRIC and ILRI.

The participants were selected from the districts practicing or in the process of practicing intensive pig rearing for better monitoring and detection of the heat period. The districts  include Soroti,  Masaka, Luwero, Kamuli, Jinja, Gulu, Buikwe, Mpigi, Hoima, Mityana, Kiryandongo Lira and Mbale.


A section of participants introducing themselves in pairs during the opening ceremony

The participants will be trained in different aspects  of Pig AI including pig Genetics and breed types;  Anatomy of Male and Female reproductive  tracts; Reproductive behavior in guilt/sow, heat and pregnancy  detection; Pig  nutrition management;  Boer semen (liquid and frozen ) production; Record keeping in Pig AI;  AI facilities; Estrous syncronization; Operating and managing  a private  boar stud; Semen collection; AI techniques and Post AI process; Laws and bio security  ethics.


 A section of technicians in the laboratory at Makerere in the previous year training

Speaking at the opening of the training, the Project leader Makerere University  Assoc. Professor Donald Rugira Kugonza  from the Department of Agricultural Production said, the project was conceived in 2014 supported by NARO with the objective of increasing livestock productivity  especially in pigs.

He said the aim was to work with farmers by looking at increasing the number of piglets but later realized that when piglets are born, farmers did not have what to feed.  So they developed piglet replacer diet incase the mother pig had no milk or died or had many piglets.

The other objective according to Dr. Kugonza was up scaling Pig AI which had remained a Makerere thing  and the surrounding community after the scientific breakthrough in 2014.


Makerere University Project leader Dr. Donald Rugira Kugonza and Pig AI specialist Robert Natumanya giving the training program during the opening session at Kabanyolo

He said a boar stud was established at the university farm at Kabanyolo and in Kabarole where they trained people in Wakiso and Kabarole in Pig AI to enable them work in their communities on Pig AI technology.

“In the first phase we trained 30 people from the two project sites Wakiso and Kabarole.  And so during the review of that project, NARO was very impressed because that project was to end in June this year 2017.  At the beginning of this year 2017, they felt the need to scale the technology to other districts by training people from other districts. So we designed this phase two running for one year to train as  many  as possible from other districts and NARO accepted to support training of 50 people”, He said.

Dr. Kugonza said that the idea was to get at least 2 people from each district and a maximum of 3.

“So in this training we are having 25 people from 13 districts and we shall have another set of 25 in September. We are really grateful for NARO for funding this work and they are partnering with us on the project team , we have a gentleman from Makerere and another gentlemen from Wakiso district”. The Don added.

The PI reported that Uganda is doing well as regards to pig production but the threat now is from people who are eating pork.

“The pork consumption has been rising to a point that Uganda is now number one in Africa. Each person is eating about 3. 5kg of pork per year.  So  the pig is threatened that is why we need to do something to make sure that pigs are multiplying. Consumption might be over running production. I think it is a market place because once the market is there then the need to produce more meat” , the Professor said.

Uganda according to Assoc. Prof. Kugonza is producing 4 million pigs of which half  are consumed annually. In terms of tones of pork consumed Dr. Kugonza  calculated the average of 3.5 kg consumed  per person x 40 million people leading to 160 million tones of pork needed by Ugandans.


 A section of participants during the opening session

Dr. Kugonza also reported that Uganda is young in pig AI saying,  globally Pig AI is common practice.

 In Europe and USA   he said, almost 99 % of the pigs are bred by AI and one of the biggest motivation for AI is   that you are sure of productivity, genetics and you can avoid diseases unlike Ugandan  farmers who  pick a sow and carry it across the village to look for a male.

“We talked to farmer who said she used to hire a pick up at 50,000 and even at the boar site, she pays shs.75,000 for boar service.  But now with AI, it could cost shs. 50,000  or less if the system becomes more efficient.  So Uganda is not yet where we want it to be. We are still using boars and these boars get overworked and in the end, sows are producing one or two piglets  because the boars are firing blanks. In other cases the boars are very far or framers are meeting feeds for their sows,” He added.

The Professor expressed happiness over the farmers’ responses to the call for training. He said districts where calls for applications were sent out responded with long lists of interested participants beyond the capacity. He appealed to both public and private  organizing  to partner with the university  to upscale AI.

“NAGRIC, the national institution in charge of breeds has already expressed interest, we have district partnering with us, Pig Production and Marketing has already sent participants and we  look forward to community groups, Universities and government agencies to partner with us,” Kugonza appealed.

Dr. Kugonza explained that Pig AI  is not complicated.  Young people can learn and in future run their own stud and give services to the communities. As a university he said, they will remain with quality control mechanism, supervision and receiving samples for quality checks.

The MAK don also reported that current conception rate in AI is over 90% . One of the research findings by a student on the project established that even if one uses single insemination or double insemination, there is no big difference in the number of piglets born and even interms of conception rate. In over 100 cases he said, they had less than 10.


 A section of the trainees

He said the piglets born are very good and over 10 in most cases and also survival is very good  with good sizes so the owners of the pigs should make sure they feed them well.

“In terms of the districts, there is a lot of demand for AI technology and our hope is that people are trained ready to provide the service come Monday next week. They are not learning to go and sleep with this technology because it is a lot of money to train these people,” the Makerere don said.

In Wakiso alone the project has  trained 15 people and another 15 in Fortportal.  

“We are happy that in Wakiso atleast 10 of them have started training and we are going to give them kits so that they can all practice. The kits for Pig   AI are not on the market . So for this particular group of trainees the 50 we are going to equip them so that each one gets an AI kit.  We are  under the procurement process, kits are coming from outside and we are ordering on line,” He pledged.


Some of the trainees during the opening 

Dr. Kugonza was hopeful  that once the technology  comes to the country , dealers in container village or agricultural dealers should be able to import the kits so that technicians willing to get kits can go and buy them .

“If we don’t move sows around , we shall not move reproductive diseases around.  We shall be creating employment for the youth because they can earn enough from this practice if we take it seriously,”.

He enumerated Ugandan districts doing very well in pigs as including Wakiso with about a half million pigs,  Masaka,  Kisoro, Gulu, and  Kamuli which has been coming up in the last 10 years.  There many districts that would be doing well but once in a while get attacks of swine fever.

He said distant districts like kabarole which have kept swine fever out for over five years. They are very strict with movement of pigs to avoid transmission and therefore the population keeps a growing.


A section of the trainees

Dr. Kugonza however observed that there are demerits of Pig AI attributed to the technicians, some attributed to the farmer. At the farmer level he said, the problem with the technology is that if he does not time the heat period properly, he may not  get the result whereby sometimes  technicians come come to inseminate but find the pig has gone out of the heat period.

 On the technician side, he said, they could be ethical problems but most have realised how they should be responding to farmer needs  for services  when pigs are on heat irrespective of the time and  day of the week.

“The other problem is that the heat period will not wait for the technician to come on Monday. It can be on Sunday, Christmas. We are training technicians to give a service to the community,” Dr. Kugonza explained.

He dismissed as false the allegation that pig AI leads to production of few piglets saying, this is a problem of the sow naturally that it cannot conceive a big number.


Some of the trainees during theopening 

"To a farmer, you are the right place and right time. So manage your pigs  very well  if you are going to benefit from this technology, feed them very well don’t look for the boar because there is this technology which will bring the semen right to your home  and then you sit back and wait for your piglets and be sure you are going to improve your genetics because with a call away, a technician will deliver a first grade seed", Kugonza advised.


Report compiled by:

Jane Anyango & Nankebe Agnes Nantambi

Communication Office, CAES

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