I didn’t even know piggery was a word until I came to Uganda. Although it sounds like something done behind closed doors – perhaps closed barn doors – and certainly ethically dubious or maybe borderline illegal, it is actually the Ugandan word for pig farming. My VSO cluster is sponsoring a local NGO to set up a piggery project. Despite being entirely agriculturally ignorant, I somehow got landed with the job of filling the holes in the project’s business plan and finalising the budget.
So yesterday morning I set off with Mr Asaba - trustee of the project, Chair of the local agricultural board and Edward (of the graduation)’s Dad - to a far flung corner of the subcounty to learn about piggery from an established farmer. It was a long journey but luckily Mr Asaba had brought his bicycle. For the downhill and flat parts I clambered on to the back and we bounced clankingly along, weaving our way past the potholes and goats. The spectacle delighted the village kids who shrieked a chorus of ‘maazuunguuu!!’ as we passed. When we met a hill, we’d both dismount and Mr Asaba would push, greeting every other person as a long lost friend and somewhat retarding our progress. Meanwhile I tried to ask intelligent-sounding questions about livestock, house-building, fish farming and earthquake-proofing.
Just before we reached the pig farm, I was rewarded with a completely breathtaking view north from the Kabarole plateau to Lake Albert glinting 50km away and the Blue Mountains of Congo to the east. I suddenly appreciated the meaning of a rift valley – it’s as though someone has pulled the mountains apart to left and right creating a huge gaping stretch mark in the middle. Finally we arrived at Mr Kagaba’s beautifully kept, flower-covered compound and he ran through the ins and outs of pig care while I hurriedly scribbled notes. Twenty minutes and one giant pawpaw later, I had obtained a fairly comprehensive knowledge of pig keeping in the tropics. Essential life skill development.