In the mountainous areas of North Vietnam, pig production is conducted on a semi-intensive level and can be characterised as demand driven. Are local pig breeds and improved introduced pig genotypes suitable for smallholders? What are the potentials and limitations for future development of the existing pig production systems?
Livestock husbandry is an important component of the mixed farming systems in South-East Asia in general and Vietnam in particular. Pig keeping is wide spread and pigs are considered to be one of the most important livestock species in Vietnam.
Compared to the lowland and delta areas of Vietnam, the mountainous areas of North Vietnam are a marginalized region characterised by low and unsteady resource availability and a less developed infrastructure. These mountainous areas are not a homogenous region but have to be divided in zones with specific characteristics.
The mountain valleys and areas near towns are densely populated and therefore affected by a high land pressure. The infrastructure is relatively well developed. Pig production is conducted on a semi-intensive level and can be characterised as demand driven. Farmers keep almost exclusively high-yielding pig genotypes, namely Vietnamese improved breeds, imported pig breeds and their respective crossbreds. The variety of genotypes kept is the result of a breed replacement process that started in the 1950s.
The objectives of this study are:
These objectives lead to a comparison of the Vietnamese improved breed “Mong Cai” in a demand driven production system with the Vietnamese local breed “Ban” in a resource driven production system and thus to the central question: Is it reasonable to integrate Ban breed in a breeding and marketing program in the resource driven system, or is it better to replace the local breed by higher-yielding genotypes?
The study was conducted in the frame of the Thai Vietnamese German collaborative research program “The Uplands Program/ SFB 564”. Fieldwork was conducted from February to July 2001 and from January to August 2002 in four villages of ethnic Black Thai in the province Son La, located in the mountainous area of North West Vietnam (for characterisation of the study location see table 1).
Table 1 : Characterisation of villages selected for the study
District Son La capital
Nearer to town Mountain valley
District Mai Son
Farer from town Hillside
|Production system||Demand driven||Resource driven|
|Predominant pig breed||Vietnamese improved:Mong Cai, MC crossbred||Vietnamese local:Ban breed|
|Origin of pig breed||Red River Delta||Upland region, NW Vietnam|
|Interviewed households (n)||17||16||16||15|
Additionally, communication tools following a RRA approach were used for in depth-assessment of special topics, such as feeding strategies in different seasons of the year or appreciation of pig breeds by farmers. Performances of pigs were recorded by repeated weighing (in total 731 individual measurements). Research results were discussed with farmers both individually and in feedback seminars conducted in the year 2002. Results were used to describe the two pig production systems. Based on the system description, suggestions for interventions were made. Suggestions were communicated to farmers in training courses and to local authorities, aiming at improvement of pig production.
In the resource versus the demand driven system, pig production shows considerable differences. These differences are described starting from impact of pig production on the household economy via the production performances and the pig production output up to differences in feed input requirements.
The annual revenue from pig keeping is nearly four-fold higher than in the resource driven system (demand driven system Ban Buon 3.9 million VND; Ban Bo 4.6 million VND; resource driven system Na Huong 1.1 million VND; Bo Duoi 1.4 million VND).
In the resource driven system, farmers get the highest cash revenue from cropping (Na Huong 23.1 million VND, Bo Duoi 15.2 million VND). Off-farm activities, husbandry of pigs and other livestock make only minor contributions to the total household cash revenue.
Figure 1 : Average cash revenue/ household x year (million VND), weighted by percent of farmers getting the respective type of revenue/ income, by village. Household interviews 2002; VND = Vietnamese Dong, 1 USD ~ 15,500 VND (approximate exchange rate 2002)
From the different share of pig production in the annual household cash revenue it can be assumed that pig keeping fulfils different functions in the two production systems. These different functions are derived from farmers’ answers to the question “Why do you keep pigs?” (table 2).
Results show that in both the demand and the resource driven system, pig keeping is perceived as an income generating activity. However, the proportion of farmers, who gave “income generation” as main reason for pig keeping, was considerably higher in the demand driven system. In addition, in the resource driven system, pigs/ pork are necessary to fulfil social obligations and are used in connection with customs and for special occasions like weddings, funerals, worshipping, etc.. In the demand driven system, the proportion of farmers giving social-cultural reasons for pig keeping was negligible.
Table 2 : Farmers’ answers to the question “Why do you keep pigs?”, by village
|Village||Ban Buon||Ban Bo||Na Huong||Bo Duoi|
|Interviewed farmers (n)||15||15||15||15|
|Reasons given by farmers (%)|
|Pigs for slaughter, pork forspecial occasions||4.8||0.0||61.7||48.5|
|Pay hired workers||0.0||0.0||11.8||3.0|
It is known both from literature and own results that the utilization of pigs in North Vietnam has more aspects than mentioned in table 2. In the study area, pigs are used as a source of manure for cropping, as a source of pork for consumption, can be given away as a gift, and pig keeping is considered as a custom. Farmers did not explicitly mention those functions as reasons for pig keeping, which might be due to the fact that they are not the primary reasons for pig keeping or that farmers take these functions for granted.
The differences in total cash revenue from pig production in the two systems can partly be explained by the different reproductive and growth performances of the predominant genotypes. Up to now, a part of the recorded weight and reproduction data has been analysed, and preliminary growth and reproduction performance values have been derived (reproduction performance data figure 2, growth performance data figure 3).
The average reproductive performance of Mong Cai in the demand driven system is higher than the performance of Ban: While Mong Cai sows yield 1.8 ± 0.7 litters/ year (n = 15 sows) with 11.2 ± 2.7 piglets born alive (n = 18 litters), Ban yield only 1.2 ± 0.3 litters/ year (n = 20 sows) with 7.3 ± 1.5 piglets born alive (n = 26 litters). However, figure 2 shows a high variation within breed for both performance parameters (number of litters/ year; litter size), indicating a considerable effect of management conditions on the performance.
Reproduction data were collected in structured interviews; validation by data recording will be conducted in on-farm trials. In each visited household, in addition to the reproduction data of sows the growth performance of the respective offspring of these sows was recorded (figure 3). Data for Ban and Large White x Ban crossbreds (LW x Ban) were collected in villages of the resource driven system, data for Large White x Mong Cai (LW x MC) were collected in villages of the demand driven system.
Figure 3 : Growth performance of different pig genotypes. Weighing 2001
Among the three pig genotypes, the LW x MC offspring shows the highest growth performance with up to 20 kg live weight after 100 days of age. LW x Ban crossbreds show a medium growth performance and yield about 10 kg live weight after 100 days of age. Ban shows the lowest performance with about 5 kg live weight after 100 days of age. Due to the low sample size, the recorded data give only preliminary growth performance values. Data recording with a bigger sample size will be conducted in on-farm trials.
In the demand driven system, pigs are almost exclusively sold; while in the resource driven system, pigs are also sold, but slaughtered to a higher extent than in the demand driven system. The total amount of pigs sold seems to be very low in the resource driven system as compared to the demand driven system. However, the data show the result of a process of increasing market orientation. A market for pigs became available in this region as late as 1997. Since that time the number of farmers selling pigs and the amount of pigs sold has been increasing continuously.
Figure 4 : Average pig extraction/ household and year, weighted by percent of households selling/ slaughtering/ giving pigs as a gift, by village. Household interviews 2002
In addition to differences in the total extraction from the pig herd, different extraction patterns (here selling patterns) can be observed in the two systems (figure 5).
Figure 5 : Selling management – weight distribution of pigs sold, by production system (household interviews 2002)
The selling management of farmers demonstrates typical characteristics described for demand and resource driven systems. In the demand driven system, pigs are sold in two more or less clearly defined age/ weight periods, namely directly after weaning to other farmers for fattening or breeding purpose and as fatteners to dealers, following the requirements of the market. This is shown by two peaks in the frequency distribution. In the resource driven system, pigs are mainly sold directly after weaning, and to a smaller extent as fattening pigs. However, in several cases they will be sold regardless of age and weight when the household is lacking feed or cash (figure 5).
For the intended calculation of production efficiency, output and input parameters are required. Since feeding has a strong influence on the production efficiency, comparative data for feeding strategies and feed costs in times of feed abundance and feed shortage, respectively, are presented (table 3). Data for the “time of abundance” were collected in March/ April, when households still had sufficient feedstocks2 from the last harvest. Data for the “time of shortage” were collected in June/ July, just before the harvesting season, when most households had finished the stocks.
Table 3 : Farmers’ feeding strategies for different feed components in times of relative feed abundance and shortage
- Higher amount/ day x pig
- Regular purchase
- Higher amount/ day x pig
- Irregular purchase
- Purchase by more farmers
- Use of credits for purchase
- Purchase by more farmers, but still less than in the demand driven system
- Almost no credits used
- Higher amount/ day x pig
- Produced maize mainly for feeding
- Lower amount/ day x pig
- Produced maize mainly for selling
- Buy additional maize
- Use of credits for purchase
|- Replace by vegetable, cassava, rice bran|
|Cassava||Abundance||- Lower amount/ day x pig||- Higher amount/ day x pig|
- Same or smaller amount/ day x pig
- Purchase by few farmers
- Increase amount/ day x pig (replacement)
- No purchase
The main feed components (beside concentrate feed, maize and cassava also rice bran, vegetable and dried fish) are used in both production systems. However, in the systems, composition of feeding rations and feeding strategies in time of feed shortage differ. The described feeding strategies again reflect characteristics of demand driven versus resource driven production systems: In the demand driven system resources are made available or are reserved for the desired production level. This is shown by the purchasing of feed in times of shortage, taking up credits for feed purchase, and keeping produced maize for feeding. In the resource driven system, the production is adjusted to the utilisation of the available resources. When feed resources are finished, energy-rich high-quality feed (maize) is replaced by feed of lower quality and energy content still available on the farm (vegetable, cassava).
The described feeding management is also reflected by data for the daily feed costs per household and their variation in times of feed abundance and shortage (figure 6). In the demand driven system, the daily feed costs per household are higher than in the resource driven system (see figure 6). In both systems, daily feed costs increase in times of feed shortage. However, in the resource driven system, daily feed costs remain lower than costs in the demand driven system (Ban Buon 5667 VND and Ban Bo 4151 VND/ hh x day versus Na Huong 1126 VND and Bo Duoi 597 VND/ hh x day).
Figure 6 : Average daily feed costs/ household in times of feed abundance and shortage, weighted by percent of households buying feed, by village. (n1 = Number of households in time of abundance, n2 = number of households in time of shortage). Household interviews 2002; 1 USD ~ 15,500 VND (approximate exchange rate 2002)
In order to assess the future role of the local Ban breed in the resource driven production system, the opinion of farmers also regarding their appreciation of the Ban breed has to be considered (table 4).
Table 4 : Appreciation of the local Ban breed by farmers, by production system
|Sample||23 Non-Ban keepers||29 Ban keepers|
|Keep Ban, no incentives required (%)||0.0||51.7|
|Keep Ban, but higher performance or economic incentives required (%)||91.3||44.8|
|Keep Ban under no circumstances (%)||8.7||3.4|
Two pig production systems in the mountainous areas working at different intensity levels have been investigated and compared. In the demand driven system, pig production aims on income generation; in the resource driven system, pig production has more diversified functions including income generation, consumption and social functions. Both systems differ in management strategies applied. Development strategies in pig production have to be adapted considering the respective system characteristics.
Pig genotypes under study show different production performances in the two systems. The improved breed Mong Cai in the demand driven system yields a higher output but also requires a higher production input. The local Ban breed yields only a lower output but requires a lower input into pig production. Differences in production efficiency of the genotypes under the management strategies applied are indicated but have not yet been fully assessed.
Exogenous and indigenous influences (ongoing breed introduction, increasing market-orientation, marketinfluence) may lead to a (further) replacement of Ban pig despite its importance for and preference by smallholders in the resource driven system. Therefore, special breeding and marketing strategies have to be developed for further keeping and utilisation of Ban pig.
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