The cashflow around Ukhrul town is rapidly draining away as huge amounts of pigs/pig meat are being imported from outside Ukhrul district and Manipur state everyday. According to a survey done by Koireng BJohn Shaiza with the local pig rearers from Kabo (Burma), reported that the Tangkhul community itself imports approximately 1000 pigs every one and half month from Kabo for consumption. Which in real market value terms, accounts for crores.
“Imagine if we the Tangkhuls, here in Ukhrul, find a way to tap into that huge market and manage to bring the production home? Ukhrul will no longer import pigs/pig meat from other places ensuring the money stays within the town. Ukhrul will also become a central hub for the pig market and will become the main exporter” – That is just what Koireng is working towards.
“To make this market sustainable, a priority goal, thinking much beyond a singly family pig rearing setup, but a self reliant Ukhrul through the piggery sector is a must,” he said.
Koireng, a resident of Ukhrul khampasom Tang, a father of five, a mathematic teacher who also runs a nonprofit, ‘Sustainable Living Foundation Trust’ has always been interested in farming since his childhood days. When he quit his teaching job after 13 years due to health complications, he did some part-time jobs while running his nonprofit SLFT. During his time in the nonprofit, he always thought about different ways to boost the economy of the town. He observed that almost every household in the villages and in town rear pigs, but for their personal consumption only, and people just didn’t see pig rearing as a profitable source of income. Koireng wanted to change that scenario and wanted people to see the huge market potential of pig market and move the benefits of pig rearing beyond personal consumption.
So in February 2017, utilising the NGO trust fund, he went to Kabo (Burma) from Kamjong phaikot. He went there five times in a month and half and brought back 100 female piglets investing more than Rs. 10 lakhs. He then distributed these piglets to widows, orphans and Below Poverty Line (BPL) families who would pay him back towards the end of the year. However, due to the lack of knowledge and experience, rearing and taking care of piglets, more than 60 of the piglets died by the end of 2017.
“We were not allowed to make individual selections of piglets, the 100 piglets I bought were a batch and I had no choice but to take the whole. Many were found to be ill and due to the lack of medicine, feeds deprived and no consultation with vet doctors resulted in the death of more than 60 piglets,” Koireng said with visible tone of regret.
Seeing the devastating loss, his family became quite discouraged and tried to talk him out of the idea of running a successful piggery farm. Nevertheless, to quit was out of the option – Koireng was determined. Hence in September 2018, he took in another 20 female piglets worth Rs. 2 lakhs after purchasing a piece of land in Langdang village in February 2018, exclusively meant for piggery and farming purposes.
During that year in May 29, 2019, he attended a one day entrepreneur workshop for piggery farmers organised by the 27 Assam Rifles in Ukhrul COB where a renowned piggery farmer and CEO of Symbiotic Foods Pvt. Ltd., Manush Kumar Basumatary conducted the workshop. Koireng was among 20 of the farmers selected for ‘On the Job Training’ tour in Assam’s Tezpur at Symbiotic Foods Pvt. Ltd. under ARCAP in November 2019 and received certificate for completion of the technical training.
“The training was an eye opener for me. Everything was done automatically and in a very systematic manner. I learnt a lot about the type of feeds, the nutrients needed and the nutritional proportions and about the various medicines and home remedies in case of sickness or diseases. All the right science of running a successful pig breeding farm. The facilities provided are very different and the same techniques cannot be practiced back home, but whatever I have learnt there about the science of piggery, I have adopted and improvised it in my own version, and the results shown are very promising. I also use YouTube and Google whenever I need a little more scientific approach on how to do things differently,” he added.
Koireng has 60 piglets at present in his Langdang farm. This financial year he made a net profit of about 4 lakhs, excluding the cost of feeds and medicines. All this in just a span of three years. This year he found a caretaker to look after his Langdang farm. The caretaker is a very dedicated piggery farmer having prior experience of more than 2 years in piggery farms in Imphal.
One of the main challenges he faces is the lack of availability of veterinary doctors and medicines and also the high price of feed.
Koireng mentioned, “Since I have opted for the scientific approach for my piggery farm, the feed is quite expensive. For carbohydrates, I feed them maize and wheat bran and for protein, powdered fish meal which comes from Imphal and also mineral mixtures.”
Also read: Piggery: A Socio-Economic Gem
He told he would also like to take up another venture to save Hao Hok, a pure local indigenous breed of pigs which is already facing the threat of extinction. Hao Hok is a smaller breed of pigs indigenous to the Tangkhul area often disregarded for it’s low yield but is considered very special for its exquisite taste.
Since the pig farm in Langdang is located in an isolated place, chances of getting diseases or viral flus are lesser. “My piglets has never succumbed from swine flu or other diseases. The main vulnerability of the piglets was piglet diarrhoea, which in the past year killed many of my piglets. However, with my new found knowledge from the training, I have been able to combat the diarrhoea with homemade herbal remedies,” Koireng mentioned.
The application of scientific method and the knowledge he received from the training has helped him overcome many obstacles. In a recent survey of his Langdang farm on September 14 along with SBI officials, the state owned bank has agreed to loan him Rs. 10 lakhs under National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) with 30% subsidy at an interest rate of 10.4% per annum for expansion which he plans to pay back in two years. Surely, SBI has found new confidence in piggery farming in Ukhrul in general, as well as Koireng in particular. Colonel Rippon Bora of the 27 AR BCOY, Ukhrul highly recommended Koireng for obtaining SBI loan.
It is the request of the farmers to Manipur government to push and encourage the piggery farmers and to educate them on how to avail schemes, loans and other benefits given to the farmers from the government. Before the awareness programs conducted by 27 Assam Riffles on September 14, none of them had heard of NABARD or other rural area agriculture development projects. Hence, it is the responsibility of the government to identify these farmers, conduct extensive village and district level awareness campaigns and with good survey (as was done in the case of Koireng BJohn Shaiza) award them with the loans and benefits they need for further expansion and rural economic empowerment.
In a remote place like Ukhrul, the much needed medicines and medical facilities are yet to be available and thus farmers have to travel all the way down to Imphal to get a vet doctor’s consultation and the medicines.
In order to make piggery farming easier and less expensive, the government needs to push the retailers to sell the feed at a more subsidized rate as in the case of Ukhrul, the feed becomes extra expensive as it is sold with transportation fees and inclusive of other taxes.
“The government should look at ways to ensure the schemes and benefits reach deserving farmers and not the high up officers and their families,” Koireng suggested.
“This year I have applied for the National Livestock Mission (NLM) scheme but I have not kept any high hopes because more than often, the government officers and their families who are aware of the scheme takes away the benefits leaving nothing for us, farmers who actually needs it. And as such, it goes into the hands of the reserved and not the deserved.”
The farmers are the backbone of our economy and piggery farmers like Koireng BJohn Shaiza and many others like him/her are working at the grassroot foundation to attain the the goal of an Atma Nirbhar Bharat, a self reliant nation. The government listening to farmers needs and demands and also educating them of the various benefits and schemes and how to avail them will go a long way.
The 27 AR COB, Ukhrul under colonel Rippon Bora and town command captain Ashish Sharma has done a brilliant job in organising and educating the villagers and doing their bit for the cause on the grassroot level farmers and thank them for their service.