The PIB was founded in 1937 to assist farmers enter the pig industry. In 1952 a research farm was established in Arcturus. In 1988 a second farm was established in Bulawayo to cater for pig producers in the southern part of the country.
The core functions of PIB in the development and promotion of the pig industry in Zimbabwe are through genetic improvement, research, training and extension services. During the early years most of the research conducted by the PIB centred on the development of practical diets that pig farmers could use. The research assisted farmers to use the feeds available in Zimbabwe. The PIB conducted training on station and on-farm to assist in the development of the pig industry. The PIB also provided an extension service that was critical in assisting new farmers to establish themselves in the industry. Most of the development work of the PIB focused on breed development. The PIB established a litter test station where breeders brought their pigs for central testing. Pigs that met the selection criteria were certified by PIB. These pigs were multiplied on the breeder’s farms to produce breeding stock for sale to farmers. Over the years many breeders left the industry and only one pig breeder remains today.
Up until 1980 commercial pig production was predominantly the preserve of white farmers on large-scale commercial farms. Independence in 1980 heralded the entry of indigenous farmers into commercial pig production. In 2000, the government undertook a land and agrarian reform program aimed at reversing the racial imbalance of land ownership in Zimbabwe. Some indigenous farmers were allocated land with piggery infrastructure. Most of them however do not have the requisite technical know how to drive the supply side of a cost effective production base in the wake of a recovering economy with improving disposable net incomes. The PIB is challenged to coordinate innovative strategies to resuscitate a vibrant industry all round.
The development and promotional activities of the PIB were traditionally funded from pig levies collected at slaughter. At independence levy income accounted for 13% of the total income of PIB. This increased to a peak of 53% in 1988 and declined steadily thereafter to 2.1% in 2002 and 0% from 2004 onwards. The decline in the levy income resulted from the fact that the levy per pig was not being reviewed. The actual values due for collection became insignificant and disappeared with the challenges that were bedevilling the Zimbabwe currency. Capital expenditure projects PIB were funded through constrained Government investment programmes.
All the pigs from the PIB units used to be sold to COLCOM foods until prices and returns became low. As from 2000 the PIB went into direct retailing of pork and started producing value added products to cuts costs and to improve revenue generation
This review provides an opportunity for the PIB to re-examine her position in terms of shareholder and client requirements as well as to negotiate a favourable position with partner institutions towards a more effective and efficient role as a catalyst for improved pig production.