In the Highlands region of Papua New Guinea (PNG), livestock farming is commonplace for every household and an integral part of their activities because of its socio-cultural importance and the commercial value for the household. Pigs are an important source of money during times of household need, part of social and cultural events, and are in great demand in urban centres because of their high protein value.
Despite there being a strong culture of rearing livestock, farmers often feed their animals the incorrect food, opting for household waste, boiled sweet potatoes, or whatever else is available as it is the cheapest option. Additionally, the majority of animal feed that is currently given to livestock in is imported. Due to lack of knowledge about the benefits of using locally produced feed and the difficulty in sourcing manageable quantities of the product, many farmers chose to use unsuitable feed and opt for expensive products from overseas just before they want to sell their animals.
Feeding pigs with locally produced stock feed results in better animal growth because of the presence of minerals and vitamins that can be added to the process when manufacturing the feed. Animals that are fed with silage made from locally available materials will grow more than twice as quickly than with household waste, getting to full growth in just three to four months rather than nine. This is comparable to the rate of growth achieved by using imported feed.
Central Highlands Feed Mill Limited (CHFML) is located in the remote area of Kindeng in Jiwaka and is a local pig farm and stock feed producer. It offers locally produced, low cost silage to farmers made from locally available materials such as sweet potatoes and cassava. They are currently producing feed in small quantities that they mainly use themselves but they have the capacity to grow their enterprise to produce feed on a mass scale.
CHFML’s production methods are based on technology and knowledge that has proven successful over a four-year trial by NARI (PNG National Agricultural Research Institute) and ACIAR, on developing stock feed options to improve smallholder livestock farmers feeding practices. As there is such a limited supply of locally made feed in PNG, farmers have historically opted for expensive imported feed to increase growth before sale of their livestock. Having a consistent, locally produced feed in PNG that is competitive with imported feed is an innovation that will benefit farmers throughout the animal rearing process and will demonstrate a replicable process for other suppliers.
The partnership with CHFML will increase the volume of feed produced so that it can be widely available in this region. MDF is assisting the business to engage in commercial production of its feed products to utilise this market opportunity, set up demonstrations so farmers can see that a locally produced product is competitive, and more affordable than imported feed, procure appropriate equipment to commercialise production, and help them to grow demand for their products by creating promotional and marketing materials. This partnership will also have additional benefits to sweet potato farmers in this region, as they will be supplying the product to make the feed, generating more income for local producers. This partnership falls under the Rural Input Services engagement area.