Urban pig co-operative needs land to stay in business

About 15 Motherwell residents have formed a co-operative to farm pigs. (Joseph Chirume/GroundUp)

About 15 Motherwell residents have formed a co-operative to farm pigs. (Joseph Chirume/GroundUp)

Urban pig breeders in Port Elizabeth’s Motherwell township fear their project may fall apart because of insufficient land to grow their business.

The members of the Zanempilo farming cooperative have small pigsties, constructed out of wooden boards and poles, dotted along the edge of a storm water drain filled with dirty water, reports GroundUp.

While each member has his or her own sty, they club together to provide for medicines, storage and security. They also work together to collect water and look for clients. The cooperative has 15 members. All are either unemployed or pensioners.

The cooperative’s secretary, Bukiwe Nolutshungu, 58, says rearing pigs is a demanding job that needs particular skills. She says the group plans to go into full-time urban farming if given the necessary resources.

“We formed this cooperative in 2016 after discovering that urban residents, especially those living in townships, were struggling to get pork. People would travel to farms to either buy live pigs or meat,” says Nolutshungu.

“The business is good especially during public holidays and at the end of the year when people are in a celebratory mood. We however have a critical shortage of land to operate our project. This place is along a stormwater drain. We need to get approval from the municipality to use a piece of unoccupied land that is just across this water drain. That land is good both for pig breeding and gardening. The land is used by criminals from Ikamvelihle who hide their stolen goods there,” says Nolutshungu.

Mzimkhulu Ngece, 51, reiterates Nolutshungu’s point: “We need a better place to secure our pigs and equipment. We have many piglets that do not have a safe place to stay. They end up roaming the streets. Some are knocked down by cars. We also want to secure the structures to protect them from criminals. This would help us live peacefully with some residents who don’t want pigs near their houses.”

He says they are fortunate to have a communal water tap close to their pig shelters. “We use containers to fetch water and supply the pigs. However, the metro is experiencing a dry period with little water left in our dams. We would prefer to have a huge water tank to harness rain water as a way of saving municipal water.”

Simpiwe Dlilanga, 44, says the pig business supports his two children. He has 14 pigs and is expecting to diversify into vegetable gardening.

“I started with few pigs and now they are plenty. I have been selling some of them to get money for my family. I also urge people who are unemployed to embark on self-help projects that generate income.”

Mayor Athol Trollip’s spokesperson, Sibongile Dimbaza, said the cooperative should approach his office for discussions.

“We are a municipality that encourages the initiative of Vuk’uzenzele [Get up and do it yourself] as that provides for jobs and leads to a better life. However every piece of land in the municipality is governed by the municipal by-laws and enforced by the municipality. We therefore encourage them to approach us with their proposals so that we can evaluate whether that piece of land is available.” — GroundUp

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