Pig Skin Leather Products Surprise Younger Swineherds

BY DK SEBUNYA: Youth pig farmers (swine herds) from various parts of the country have been amazed by the products made out of pigskin leather, seeing it as another avenue to make more money from their herds.

These products were part of the display at the Piggery Value Chain Symposium, which attracted over 800 swineherds, both physically and online. It also attracted other piggery value chain players and sector support structures from government and the private sector. Some of the displayed items included bags, shoes, and protective gloves.

Emilian Mwebe, from Kyotera district, who was born and raised in a pig-rearing family, says that in all his experiences, he had never seen any product made from pigskin leather, though he has heard of the fact that pigskin leather exists. “I have always heard of pigskin leather but had not seen any of the products, and didn’t expect to see it in Uganda,” he added.

Learning that pigskin leather can be as useful as other animal leather products is a confirmation to him that he is in the right business. This will increase the value of these animals, affirming it has given him more encouragement to continue with the trade.

To Flavia Adoch from Nwoya, it is a motivation to start adding value to her pig products in a small way she can afford, because it has shown her that a pig can be a source of multiple items, which she has always ignored, yet they could add to her income.

Abdallah Papako, from Kiryandongo, says pigskin leather products have been his biggest surprise since he started rearing pigs. He adds that this is more reason for him to continue piggery, but also to entice many more youths to join the sector. Papako also promises to pass on the knowledge he has received to his fellows who are budding swineherds.

This is another job-creating opportunity for the youth, according to Jude Okodi from Soroti, and he wants the government to set up a tannery for pigskin leather in Uganda because the farmers are ready to provide skins. The same goes for Dcovia Achan, from Madi-Okollo district, who believes that this demystifies the notions many people had about pigs, adding that such products have no religious affiliations like pork, which, in one way, disrupts its market.

Agnes Kitumba, from Arise Collections, a leather product dealer for over 12 years, pointed out that locally pigs have not been fully utilized, yet in other parts of the world, it is a celebrated animal for what it can give. “In the hides and skins sector, we have two sources of leather. Unlike animals like cows, horses, buffaloes, and the like that give us hides for leather, those with softer skins like the pig provide what we call skin leather, so it is not true that pigs don’t produce leather,” she said.

Kitumba says that pigskin leather contributes 11 percent of the global leather market industry and is ranked number four of all the finest leather products. She adds that currently, the leather materials they use for their products are sourced from China and Canada due to the lack of a tannery for pigskin leather in the country.

Gudula Nayiga Basazza, the chief convener of the symposium, says that the event intended to spotlight the opportunities in the piggery sector, as well as providing solutions to various challenges that farmers encounter on a daily basis. She adds that solution providers from both government and the private sector were all represented.

“We want to revolutionize the piggery value chain. As we do that, we are also targeting the market because we know pigs can give us over 300 products, and now our eyes have been opened to what we can benefit from pigskin leather, because we have been receiving very low value from such a high-value product.”

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