The effect of education on smallholder pig farmers' knowledge, practices and pig productivity in the Angónia District, Mozambique.
Smallholder pig production provides an important contribution for farmer livelihoods in many African developing countries. However, there are many constraints that limit pig performance and thus financial outcome. The present on-farm trial was carried out from June 2011 to September 2012 in four villages in the Angónia district, Tete province, Mozambique. The aim was to evaluate the effectiveness of pig health, housing, feeding and reproduction education of smallholders pig farmers on the knowledge uptake, changes in pig management practices and performance of sows and their offspring. All four villages were taught pig health and housing, but information on either feeding, reproduction or feeding and reproduction was also provided to each of three villages. The education was provided through an initial focussed group discussion followed by a collective and participatory training session. In addition, construction of a good quality pig pen was demonstrated in each village and throughout the study farmers received on-farm knowledge reinforcement. For evaluation of knowledge and practices, pig farmers (total across the villages: n=179) were tested using a semi-closed questionnaire and on-farm observation pre-education (baseline, month zero) and posteducation (month thirteen). Reproduction data from sows (n=125) and production data from their progeny (from birth until 8 months age, n=461) were collected from June 2011 to June 2012. Overall, 58% of the sows could be monitored to the end of the study. Overall high and significant proportions of farmers demonstrated knowledge uptake but the changes in practices were more modest except for pig pen quality, which improved substantially. The only significant change in pig productivity was an increase in the number of litters per sow in only one of the two villages taught reproduction. Unfortunately, this was countered by high piglet mortality so the number of weaned piglets was the same as in the other villages. It is concluded that, though education can induce substantial knowledge uptake by smallholder farmers, it is more difficult to change their practices. This was probably in part due to lack of resources, but overall with just a little change there is a potential for improving pig performance.