They may not be as popular as cattle or poultry yet, but pigs — numbers indicate — are increasingly hogging the attention of livestock farmers in Kerala who have come to appreciate their worth as money-spinners.
The pig population in the State has shot up by 86.19% over a seven-year period, reveals the 20th Livestock Census carried out by the Statistics Division of the Animal Husbandry Department. The population has increased from 55,782 animals in the 2012 headcount to 1,03,863 animals in 2019. The findings of the 20th Livestock Census were published on Friday.
Exotics and cross-breeds account for 97.27% of the pigs bred in the State. At the same time, the number of animals in the indigenous/non-descript category has slipped from 4,965 animals in 2012 to 2,829 in 2019.
Rural areas, predictably, account for much of the increase, but the population has almost doubled in urban settings too, show data. The pig population in the rural areas have risen from 52,036 animals in 2012 to 97,292 in 2019, whereas, the number has increased from 3,746 to 6,571 in urban areas.
Animal Husbandry experts describe the increase in population as remarkable, but not that surprising given the profits involved in pig rearing.
“Compared to say, goat or cattle rearing, pigs are more profitable, especially when it is properly managed. Pigs are more prolific breeders compared to cows or goats. Moreover, the State government has relaxed rules which has helped pig farmers,” said Jose James, managing director, Kerala Livestock Development Board (KLDB).
Today, Kerala has several farmers who have established pig farms in the interior. They also have their own association and are familiar with scientific management practices, he said, adding that the KLDB alone supplies around 1,500 piglets annually to farmers.
According to the latest census data, pigs now constitute 3.57% of the total livestock in the State. All 14 districts have witnessed an increase in pig population, but the pig population is higher in Idukki, Thrissur, Kannur and Kozhikode compared to other parts of Kerala.
The sector is not without its challenges, especially in the management of disease outbreaks. But with the sector turning more organised, early detection and management of diseases too have become easier, said Baby Joseph, till recently Chief Disease Investigation Officer, State Institute of Animal Diseases, Palode.