According to Dr Ben Lukuyu, the Uganda Country Representative of the International Livestock Research Institute, Uganda has been named the biggest pork consumers in Africa.
Lukuyu said so on Wednesday as he presented research findings on sweet potato and production of silage from vines for growing pigs at the Roots, Tubers and Bananas end of project meeting in Entebbe.
The research,which was carried out in Masaka and Kamuli Districts revealed the relationship between sweet potato production and growing of pigs for consumption and commerce.
Dr Lukuyu, who is an animal nutritionist, says with a 3.5kg per capita, Uganda is the biggest consumer of pork in Africa and second to China on a world rating.
In Uganda, over 1 million homes rear pigs. While about 3.5 million smallholder farmers directly depend on growing pigs, millions others are employed in the value chain.
The high rate of keeping pigs in Uganda also comes with a string of challenges such as high cost of feeds, poor quality and quantity of feeds. Off all alternatives to their feed, Lukuyu says that sweet potato vines offer better digestibility in pigs.
Potato vines have become an alternative feed for the pigs. They are widely and locally available in farms, homesteads, markets and hotels.
Regardless of the high number of pigs and their feed, the weight of the pigs were still poor. As a result, pork has become expensive. 1 kilo of pork presently goes for at least Shs10, 000 in most Ugandan towns.
Ms Mary Asindu, a student of Makerere University, who was part of the research team, says that the market potential for silage made from sweet potato vines is Sh11 billion.
Dr Lukuyu added that the pig production industry is showing no sign of slowing down, hence the need to promote it.