The study was designed to assess the socio-personal and economic attributes of pig farmers in West Jaintia Hills District of Meghalaya, India and to gauge the impact of pig farming on their livelihood improvement. Hundred farmers from two development blocks were selected randomly on the basis of proportionate random sampling and interviewed with the help of a structured, pre-tested, reliable and valid interview schedule. Tools of analysis include descriptive statistics such as percentages, means, ranges and correlation. Results of analysis revealed majority of the pig farmers (58.00%) to be male and in middle age category of 30-47 years with 10.13 years of farming experience. Certain socio-economic characteristics of the respondents were found to be significantly related to improvement in livelihood because of rearing livestock and poultry. Majority (74.00%) of the respondents felt that there was relatively large degree of improvement of their livelihood in terms of education and exposure, food & nutrition and health & sanitation.
Pig production in North-East India is a popular venture which is mostly practiced by peasant farmers, men and women, in rural settings. The natives of this region are ethnically and habitually accustomed to consume meat or meat products in their daily diet and pork is a much preferred meat, especially in the tribal communities, paving great potential for pig production. As per Basic Animal Husbandry and Fisheries Statistics (2014), pig population in Meghalaya has seen a substantial increase (3.6%) from the year 2007 to 2012. As a result, livestock population has also increased substantially (7.41%) in contrast to the overall national population which has seen a decrease of 3.33%. Inspite of this fact, the state of Meghalaya is still not self-sufficient in pork production and it still has to draw supplies from other states to meet its growing demand (Mandal, 2011). Pig farming constitutes the livelihood of rural poor belonging to the lowest socio-economic strata but they particularly lack the means to undertake scientific pig farming. In the state of Meghalaya it is an important sub-sector having a long tradition of backyard production and a constantly growing level of consumption. In light of the above observations, a study was taken up in the West Jaintia Hills District of Meghalaya to understand the socio-personal and economic attributes of pig farmers and to gauge if there has been an improvement in the livelihoods of participating farmers because of rearing livestock and poultry.
Material and Method
The research work was carried out in West Jaintia Hills District of state of Meghalaya state in India. Two development blocks of the district, viz. Laskein and Thadlaskein, were purposively selected for the current study where traditional pig farming continues to dominate pig population with majority of the household rearing pigs in their back yard. Hundred respondents, 50 each from the two development blocks, were selected randomly on the basis of proportionate random sampling to constitute the total population of pig farmers keeping in view the objectives of the study thus making the total sample size 100 (hundred). Data were collected through a pre-tested, dependable and valid objective interview schedule by personally meeting the respondents at their available convenient time. The data thus collected were scored, aggregated, organized and subjected to appropriate statistical analysis in order to arrive at a conclusion as per the objectives set. Descriptive statistics such as percentages, means, ranges and frequency tables were used to analyze the data. Data related to livelihood improvement was analyzed using the Pearson’s Product Moment correlation to test the relationship between the socio-economic characteristics of the respondents and pig farming.
Results and Discussion
Personal and Socio-Economic Characteristics
The findings of socio-personal and economic assessment (Table 1) reflected majority of the pig farmers (58.00%) to be male and in middle age category of 30-47 years which pointed that adults who had the physical stamina and willingness get more involved in pig farming activities. The above finding was supported by Bime et al. (2014) where most farmers belonged to the middle age category. In concurrence Zanu et al. (2012) reinforced that this finding could also be as a result of the physical and energy demand as well as capital-intensive nature of investment required by pig production, which might have discouraged women.
Table 1: Percentage distribution of selected independent and dependent variables
|Characteristics||Category||Number of Farmer||Mean||Standard Deviation|
|Age (in years)||Young (≤ 29)||17||38.61||9.17|
|Elder (≥ 48)||13|
|Annual Family Income – from all sources
(in thousand rupees)
|Low (≤ 60)||3||83.95||25.08|
|High (≥ 110)||7|
|Annual Family Income
(from livestock sources)
(in thousand rupees)
|Low (≤ 24)||13||34.5||11.33|
|Respondent’s own income per month (in thousand rupees)||Low (≤ 2)||9||3.97||1.52|
|Educational status||Low (≤ 2)||9||3.85||1,16|
|Social participation||Low (≤ 0.2)||31||1.37||1.22|
|Extension contact||Low (≤ 2.9)||6||5.23||2.33|
|Herd size (Livestock and Poultry in Cattle Unit)||Medium (0.1-1.4 CU)||93||0.62||0.81|
|High (≥1.5 CU)||07|
|Duration of farming experience (in years)||Low (≤ 4)||5||10.13||6.51|
|Duration of association with pig farming (in years)||Low (≤ 4-5)||5||9.81||6.01|
|Number of pigs reared||Low (≤ 3)||20||4.45||1.23|
|Livelihood improvement because of livestock or poultry (Max Score =36)||Low (≤ 17)||17||22.09||4.41|
Agriculture and livestock farming remained a principal occupation in the study area, where a large section of all the respondents (47.00%) declared that cultivation was their principal occupation (Fig.1). Similar results were found by Walling and Sharma (2013).
Fig.1: Distribution of farmers as per their primary occupation
Majority of the respondents (78.00%) belonged to middle level family income group which was in line with the finding of Satyanarayan and Rao (2012). Further, majority of the respondents (79.00%) had medium level of monthly income which was also in concurrence with the finding of Neethi and Sailaja (2013). High number (33.00%) of the respondents had primary level education followed by high school level (32.00%) as in Fig.2 which in line with that of Fualefac et al. (2014). The above findings of high number of respondents with formal education could be considered to be a positive sign for pig farming in the region which could facilitate the implementation of more appropriate farming procedures, management activities, adoption of technology and marketing.
Fig.2: Distribution of farmers as per their educational status
It was observed that most of the respondents were in medium level of social participation (53.00%) which was in agreement to that of Akand and Borgohain (2010). However, these were found contradictory to the finding of Sasikala et al. (2012) where 96% of the respondents had low level of social participation and Tochhawng and Rewani (2013) where it was recorded that nearly half (46.67%) of the respondents had high social participation. High percentage (75%) of the respondents belonged to medium category of extension contact. This positively indicated an encouraging fact that there was good connectivity between the farmers and the extension network. Contradictory findings were observed by Sasikala et al. (2012) and Tochhawng and Rewani (2013) where pig farmers had low level of extension contact and mass media exposure. Majority of the farmers (93.00%) belonged predominantly to medium category (0.1-1.4 Cattle Unit) in terms of herd size. This finding was a reinforcement of the fact that livestock rearing was a part and parcel of rural life and an important component of the respondents’ income-generating activities. Similar findings were recorded by Ampaire (2011) and Payeng et al. (2013).
It could be seen that the average number of years the respondents remaining associated with livestock and poultry farming was 10.13 years with majority (85.00%) in medium category (5-15 years) of farming. This finding evidently confirmed that animal husbandry was an integral part of farming. The above finding was in concurrence with the findings of Wasihun et al. (2014). Further, the average number of pigs reared by the respondents was 4.45 with a range of 2-8 pigs which was a healthy sign in the perspective of piggery development. In previous studies by Imchen (2014) most of the pig farmers in this region were reported to be fatteners not breeders but in this present study there was indication that some of the farmers were breeders too. This finding showed that although pig farming might not be the primary occupation of the respondents, it clearly envisaged that rearing a few pigs was a common practice to provide subsidiary but significant income to the respondents (Shyam, 2011).
As evident from the findings shown in Table 1, it could be seen that majority of the respondents (66.00%) belonged to medium category on the improvement of livelihood. Livelihood improvement referred to the areas of improvement in the livelihood of the respondents as a result of rearing livestock or poultry. The areas accentuated in the study as presented in Table 2 revealed that majority (74.00%) of the respondents felt that there was relatively large degree of improvement of their livelihood in terms of education and exposure. Considerable degree of improvement in their livelihood in terms of social relation and understanding, mitigating unforeseen expenses, financial linkage and marketing, standard price and steady supply, political awareness and accesses, village condition and cooperation, road and communication, and house and furniture were also recorded. Similar findings were also reported by Biradar et al. (2013).
Table 2: Frequency distribution of respondents on the basis of their agreement on improvement of livelihood because of rearing livestock or poultry
|S. No.||Areas of improvement in the livelihood||Very much||Much||Somewhat|
|1||Food and nutrition||59 (59.00)||35 (35.00)||6 (6.00)|
|2||Health and sanitation||50 (50.00)||50 (50.00)||0 (0.00)|
|3||Education and exposure||74 (74.00)||26 (26.00)||0 (0.00)|
|4||Social relation and understanding||12 (12.00)||77 (77.00)||11 (11.00)|
|5||House and furniture||13 (13.00)||41 (41.00)||46 (46.00)|
|6||Village condition and cooperation||9 (9.00)||44 (44.00)||47 (47.00)|
|7||Road and communication||9 (9.00)||43 (43.00)||48 (48.00)|
|8||Political awareness and accesses||7 (7.00)||47 (47.00)||46 (46.00)|
|9||Financial linkage and marketing||15 (15.00)||50 (50.00)||35 (35.00)|
|10||Mitigating unforeseen expenses||18 (18.00)||54 (54.00)||28 (28.00)|
|11||Standard price and steady supply||22 (22.00)||50 (50.00)||28 (28.00)|
Figures in parentheses ( ) indicate percentage
It could be observed in Table 3 that the age of the respondents had positive and significant correlation to improvement in livelihood because of rearing livestock or poultry (r=0.21*, p<0.05). The philosophy behind such findings revealed that with the advancement of age, better understanding, experience and urge for better life generally motivated the pig farmers. Similar findings were reported in the studies of Igwe et al. (2013).
Table 3: Socio-economic variables as related to livelihood improvement because of rearing livestock or poultry
|Family’s Annual Income from all sources (in thousands)||0.16|
|Family’s Annual Income from livestock sources (in thousands)||0.39**|
|Respondent’s Own Income per Month||0.25**|
|Duration of farming experience (in years)||0.40**|
|Duration of association with piggery farming (in years)||0.39**|
|Number of pigs reared||0.27**|
Further, family annual income from livestock sources had positive and highly significant correlation to improvement in livelihood because of rearing livestock or poultry (r=0.39**, p<0.01). Respondent’s own monthly income had positive and highly significant correlation to improvement in livelihood because of rearing livestock or poultry (r=0.25**, p<0.01). Similar kind of results was also obtained by Satyanarayan and Rao (2012).
The number of pigs that the respondents reared had positive and highly significant correlation to their improvement in livelihood because of rearing livestock or poultry (r=0.27**, p<0.01). The reason attributed might be the farmers’ perception towards possessing more number of animals yielded more income which was in agreement to the finding of Payeng et al. (2013).The respondent’s duration of farming experience (in years) had positive and highly significant correlation with improvement in livelihood because of rearing livestock or poultry (r=0.40**, p<0.01). Moreover, the respondent’s duration of association with piggery farming (in years) had positive and highly significant correlation to improvement in livelihood because of rearing livestock or poultry (r=0.39**, p<0.01) while it had positive and significant correlation to factors influencing livestock production (r=0.23*, p<0.05). The above findings, therefore, were on expected lines because experience of the respondents over the years enabled them to improve their knowledge and management skills in pig farming which led them to realize the benefits and sustainability that could be achieved through pig production. These findings were in accordance with those of Wasihun et al. (2014).
Conclusion and Implications
The study revealed that almost 60% of the households had 4-5 pigs in their backyard and had an average association of almost 10 years of pig farming which is at par with their farming experience in livestock and poultry. These findings along with their annual income from livestock were positively correlated with their socio-economic parameters. Most importantly, majority (74.00%) of the respondents felt that there was relatively large degree of improvement of their livelihood particularly in terms of education and exposure which is a constructive sign for their life situation. Looking into the shortage of pork production in the state and going by the positive rural setting of Meghalaya there lies immense scope for strengthening the existing set up to escalate pork production. Interdisciplinary approach to deal with farming, marketing and other related issues could be beneficial. Being very popular amongst the tribal, backward and weaker sections of the society, there is tremendous scope for improvement of livelihood through scientific pig production and thus arise an urgent need of a mechanism for active participation of the farmers and to get positive influence on piggery development.
The authors wish to express their gratitude to the Director of A.H. & Veterinary, Government of Meghalaya, India for giving the opportunity, approval and advice to undertake this study. Special thanks also goes to all respondents of the study who had invested and spared their time during the period of interview and data collection, for without them this research would have been an impossible and futile exercise.