Haiti Reconstruction

Rebuilding Haiti must start from the ground up, with agricultural education

Pig Project

Well somebody needs to start a discussion about pigs in Haiti. They are historically one of the most important livestock in the country. No discussion would be complete without a look at the recent history of pigs in Haiti:

Creole Pig
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Creole Pig was a breed of pig indigenous to the Caribbean nation of Haiti. Creole pigs were well adapted to the rugged terrain and sparse vegetation of Haiti. The pig’s resilience allowed Haitian peasants to raise these pigs with little resources. The peasants characterized their pigs as never getting sick.
Creole pigs served as a type of savings account for the Haitian peasant: They were sold or slaughtered to pay for marriages, medical emergencies, schooling, seeds for crops, or a vodou ceremony. The resillience and boisterous nature of the pigs, as well as their incorporation into vodou folklore and the oral history of the Haitian revolution, made them a symbol for the independence and personality of the Haitian people.
Creole pigs were well adapted to local conditions, such as available feed and conditions needed for their management as livestock and were popular with the Haitian peasant farmers. However, they were almost all killed off in the 1970s and 1980s, ostensibly in order to prevent the spread of African swine fever virus, which had spread from Spain to the Dominican Republic and then to Haiti via the Artibonite River. According to the United States, by 1982 African swine fever had infected almost one-third of Haiti's creole pig population. Concerned about the spread of the disease into the US and its potential effects on agriculture, the US put political pressure on the Haitian government to slaughter all the pigs in their country.
This reasoning was subsequently questioned by the government of Jean-Bertrand Aristide, as well as numerous academic reports, including a report published in a 1990 edition of "Stretch"[1]. The eradication of the creole pig had gone further to impoverish the already struggling peasants. It forced many children to quit school. Small farmers were forced to mortgage their land. Many Haitians cut down trees for cash income from charcoal. This contributed to the desertification of the Haitian landscape, already begun by overpopulation.
In the Haitian peasant community, the government's eradication and repopulation program was highly criticized. The peasants protested that they were not fairly compensated for their pigs and that the breed of pigs imported from the United States to replace the hardy creole pigs was unsuitable for the Haitian environment and economy.
The new breed of pigs imported from the US, common to large farms in the American Midwest, was characterized as "better" than the creole pig. Unfortunately, they required clean drinking water which is unavailable to 80% of the Haitian population, imported feed (costing $90 a year when the per capita income was about $130), vaccination, and special roofed pigpens. There is controversy over whether the importation of these pigs was encouraged by US agribusiness, as the raising of these pigs was so heavily dependent on imported products. Haitian peasants quickly named the pigs "prince à quatre pieds," (four-footed princes). The repopulation program was a complete failure.
In recent years, Haitian and French agronomists have bred a new variety of pig with the same beneficial qualities as Haiti's Creole pig. An effort to repopulate Haiti with these pigs is underway.[1].
1.  Grassroots International


African Swine Fever Eradication and Pig Repopulation in Haiti.

excerpts of a report prepared for PEOPLE TO PEOPLE by Phillip Gaertner


Anyone with even a casual acquaintance with pigs would have to be scornful of the critics' concern that the pigs IICA placed in Haiti would not adapt. The Yorkshire, Hampshire, and Duroc pigs used to repopulate Haiti are found in tropical countries throughout the world. And they do very well. They are the most efficient producers of meat, having higher growth rates, greater weight at maturity, and higher feed conversion efficiency. Studies comparing tropical indigenous breeds to these so-called "Iowa" hogs have been conducted in the Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand, Nigeria, Puerto Rico, Columbia, and other countries, and all concluded that native pigs were simply not worth the effort or cost of even low-management production systems. The study in Columbia even challenged the concept of no-input, no-cost, scavenging systems. After a value was placed on the time and few material inputs of so-called free-range management, it determined that native breeds were comparatively unproductive, and that such systems were not "no-input", but actually operating at a loss. The argument for "feed-conversion efficiency" is especially compelling in those countries where feed is scarce. When indigenous pigs and "Iowa" hogs are fed the same amount of feed, the "Iowa" hogs gain more weight, producing a maximum amount of meat from a minimum amount of feed. […]

The improved breed's single most important virtue is it's efficiency in converting feed into meat, the result of a longer intestinal tract. Production with indigenous pigs can still be profitable, however. The main reason pork production is so low in developing nations is the lack of feed and management provided these animals by subsistence farmers. It takes two to three years for these animals to achieve market weight because they grow so slowly, and this is due in large part to the lack of feed or other management such as parasite and disease control. Small litters and high mortalities are the rule, not the exception, under extensive systems, no matter what the breed.

On the other hand, under traditional systems of management (or non-management), indigenous breeds may be better survivors, if not better producers. The Creole pig was a small animal. As such, it required less feed. Sixty to seventy per cent of a pig's body weight is water. Being smaller, the Creole pig required smaller amounts to survive. But what feed and water it did consume was nevertheless, less efficiently converted into food for humans. [ ... ] Prior to this program, there had been no serious attempt to improve Haitian pork production, no focus on the pig similar to what the eradication and absence of pigs brought about, and no extension services from the GOH. It is probable that the Creole pig, because of the high population it achieved during the past 500 years (which had exceeded all estimates, causing cost over-runs during the eradication and compensation phase of the program), was able to exist with similar or greater problems, unnoticed due to its numbers. Reports of studies of the Haitian Creole pig moreover, claim a litter size at weaning not exceeding four piglets, compared to the 8-9 per litter of the introduced breeds (even in Haiti the weaning rate is reported to be 8.2). Even if the introduced breeds are suffering an average litter mortality of 50%, productivity is still greater. The Creole pig was a result of centuries of inbreeding and possessed all the negative consequences of that breeding system, including low fertility, litter size, and growth rates, "Crossbreeding", practiced by 90% of U.S. commercial producers and producers around the world, enhances "vigor", creating offspring superior to their parents in traits such as growth rate, litter size, and decreased mortalities. Three breeds were placed in Haiti by IICA to allow this crossbred vigor to exist and avoid genetic homogeneity.

After the eradication, Haiti was in a position envied by pork producing countries everywhere. Not only was she free of ASF, but all major swine diseases as well. To preserve that status, the project sought SPF pigs or pigs free of disease. The U.S. and Canada were the closest two countries from which such truly healthy animals could be obtained. They then chose from available breeds those that possessed large litters, good mothering ability (able to produce a large quantity of milk), and efficient feed-conversion. These were Yorkshire, Durocs, Hamphsires, and some Landrace.

Nutrition is the single most important factor in a sow's reproductive efficiency, especially immediately before gestation and again prior to farrowing. Piglet survival also depends on the mother's nutritional supply during lactation. When sows are not provided with adequate water, lactation may not occur or be insufficient. The baby piglet's first twenty-four hours are especially critical as the piglet needs antibodies which are obtained from colostrum (first milk) of the sow. Nutrition of the sow is extremely important, as the piglet's growth is rapid at this time, and many environmental stresses are present, including disease, high daytime temperatures, and chilly nights. If pigs are not being adequately fed or managed, high mortalities and cannibalism are to be expected and will occur whether or not the pig is an indigenous pig, an improved breed, or a wild pig. [ ... ]

The indigenous swine's resistance to disease is largely mythological. The Creole pig died as readily from cholera and other diseases, including ASF, as the improved breeds. (The chronic or low-virulent form of the ASF virus in some pigs during the eradication no doubt misled many farmers into thinking their pigs had recovered.) Resistance and immunity to disease is not an inherited characteristic but is acquired either through exposure and survival, vaccination, or in the womb and through mother's milk. But none of the world's tropical indigenous swine have shown resistance to any of the significant viral or bacterial diseases, Mortality from birth to maturity due to disease in tropical pigs has been repgried to be as high as 50%. despite their acquired resistance to "local" diseases.

It often takes indigenous swine 2 1/2 years under extensive systems to achieve market weight of 200 lbs., but the Creole pig's weight rarely exceeded 150 lbs. With proper nutrition, the improved breeds achieve that weight (200 lbs.) in six months. (Beyond a certain age and weight, pigs become more lardy, and less feed-efficient, less profitable to raise.) Native swine, when housed and fed under the same conditions as the improved breeds reach their market weight at least three months sooner. These high-efficiency animals are faster growing and require feed to perform to their potential. Without sufficient feed, they, too, will degenerate to become a stunted, slow-growing, non-productive animal. In fact, exotic pigs under extensive or scavenging systems, and suffering from severe nutritional deficiencies, do bear a remarkable resemblance to the rustic pigs.

Resistance to parasites in native swine is also largely a myth. Parasites destroy any animal's productivity, including humans, generally weakening its condition and negatively affecting all aspects of production. Live weight losses can be enormous. [ ... ]

Color in pigs in the tropics can be significant. The pigs IICA placed in Haiti were three different colors: Red (Durocs), Black (Hampshires), and White (Yorkshires). The white pigs can burn in the sun, if they lack shade. However, the lighter color is less absorptive of heat and thus can substantially reduce heat stress. Among pig breeders in the Southern U.S., a prejudice against the white pigs persisted for many years. An old pig-farmer from Mississippi described to me her reaction the first time she saw a Yorkshire: "I was terrified. I had never seen anything like it. So pink you could see through it. It seemed unnatural." After a few pigs were bred and taken to market, however, most breeders changed their minds. Kipling, writing about one of the earliest failures in aid projects, spoke of famine victims in India dying "within arm's reach of plenty" because they would not eat a grain that was foreign to them. But Haitians have more than a distrust of things new in their dislike of the light colored pigs: The gods demand a black pig as sacrifice. This is a non-rational reason; not an irrational one. Color is significant in all religions where ritual plays a role, including Catholicism.

Even the director of the project has expressed regret over the fact that they did not place more black pigs. But Haiti does have her black Hampshires, and when crossed with Durocs, the offspring is usually black. (Heifer Project International, a non-profit organization in existence since 1944 with experience in more than 100 countries, later provided sixty colored boars at the project's request, to further satisfy those who preferred colored pigs.) [ ... ]

So the pig is back in Haiti. As livestock feed is a challenge, especially for pigs, who are monogastric (single stomached) and basically eat the same foods as humans, we need to find alternative feeds that can be produced in Haiti.


 A great source of research information is Livestock Research and Rural Development.

Their articles can be searched at: CIPAV, Livestock Research for Rural Development

Other sources include:

Research Cooperation For Livestock-Based Sustainable Farming Systems In The Lower Mekong Basin

Mekarn Research Cooperation For Livestock-Based Sustainable Farming


The Information Center about Pig Production in Developing Countries:

PigTrop, Information for developing countries

I am eagerly awaiting a copy of: 

Fodder banks for Sustainable Pig Production Systems

from CIPAV 


Some alternative pig feeds include: conventional crop leaves, fodder legumes, sugar cane products, water plants, tree and shrub leaves, and palm products.

Be aware that some of these items may need special processing before feeding to pigs to reduce toxic or anti-nutritional components. There may be limits to the amount that should be fed. Do your homework before experimenting.

Conventional crop leaves include:

pwa enkoni, cowpea, Vigna unguiculata

taro Alocasia and Colocasia (Chou Karayib)

new cocoyam malanga Xanthosoma sagittifolium

Fodder legumes:

stylo Stylosanthes guianensis

Sugar cane products include: chopped sugar cane and cane juice

Water plants include:

water fern Azolla,

water spinach Ipomoea,

duckweed Lemna

Tree and shrub leaves include:

cassava manyok, Manihot esculenta;

nacedero, Trichanthera gigantea;

lila etranje, motel, Gliricida sepium and other legumes

 hibiscus, chou blok, Hibiscus rosasinensis;

mulberry Morus alba 

benzoliv, Moringa oleifera; read way more uses of Moringa (Benzolive) click here

 Acacia auriculiformis, Acacia mangium;

jackfruit, jaquier, Artocarpus heterophyllus;

cashew, pom kajou, Anacardium occidentalis;

banana, fig, plantain, bannan, Musa

Palm products include:

sugar juice from sugar palm Borassus flabillefer

 palm kernel and oil from oil palm Elaeis guineensis

 seeds/nuts, heart of palm peelings from peach palm pejibaye Bactris gasipaes 

As you can see there a wide range of alternative and underutilized crops that can be fed to pigs.

recent publication:

Evaluation of ten tropical legume forages for their potential as pig feed supplement


What do Haitians feed their pigs? Do they feed their pigs or do pigs just find what they can?

Kiskeya Farm in Haiti raises large black pigs in Leogane:click here to read all about them.



In addition to meat, pigs produce manure which can be used to make biogas for cooking. Another alternative to wood and charcoal!  Simple biogas digesters can be made from a double layer of large tubular plastic sheeting.See:

Biodigester manual.pdf

Installation of low cost polyethylene biodigester

BioGas: alterantive energy at work

Tubular plastic sheet and other small scale designs:

Beginners guide for micro scale biogas production


Comment by Mike Mahowald on January 28, 2011 at 8:22pm
Thanks Bob Fairchild for this wonderful page full of everything we need to know about starting up pig production in small Haitian village scale.  This if packed with great information! 
Comment by Jean-Luc Giraud on February 7, 2011 at 1:00am

I have just the product for you here with pig manure, or any other manure.

Treating this with Activated EM-1 increases the rate of the process by 30% and allows the waste to be safely handled and used as compost or charred in a bio-char maker after drying.

Comment by Jean-Luc Giraud on February 7, 2011 at 1:05am
There are a lot of large black pigs in Papua New Guinea.
Comment by Criss Juliard on March 6, 2011 at 10:54am

Thank you for the good visual for manure  digester.

I would like to suggest also using pig manure for regenerating soil fertility. The manure is best if mixed with straw, leaves and/or small twigs and aged at least a year. We need to apply and work into the soil only small amounts. When mixed into the soil where we plant fruit trees and vegetables, the enhanced soil will last for several years before you need to re-add pig manure. It is also recommended to plants vetiver hedges on the down hill side of the slope of you farmed plots to slow down erosion caused by heavy rains. Pig manure is superior to other animal manure especially in Haiti, since they do not not have much access to meat-based feed. If you have a large enough pen, you will find pigs to be very clean and always deposit their poop in one area, and not where they lie or sleep. Make sure the space you allocate to pigs is large enough (if you don't have free range pigs) so they are not crowded and can distance themselves from where they poop. 

Comment by Robert Fairchild on March 6, 2011 at 9:00pm

I don't know how much pig raising is done in Haiti with any kind of confinement. Confinement on concrete is necessary to get the manure for biogas production.

The slurry left after biogas digestion makes an excellent fertilizer. All the nitrogen and phosphorus are  left, and the nitrogen is more stable.

 Don't forget, manure is a zero sum game at best. That is, it doesn't create nutrients, merely concentrates them. Only the nutrients originally in the feed end up in the manure. In reality, some is inevitably lost in handling. SEE:


go down to the bottom of the Concerns section and click on

Comment by Robert Fairchild 1 hour ago

Legume hay (soybean or cowpea, (Lablab would probably be similar)) has been successfully used in Cuba as a protein source with sugar cane juice as the energy source. (Pigs can also be fed finely chopped cane (~1-2" long pieces), they'll chew it for the sugar and spit out the fiber.) Pigs were fed the plants cut from 1 meter of row each day. 9 - 10 week old plants were best.

For the details with soybeans see: http://www.fao.org/ag/aga/agap/frg/conf96.htm/perez2.htm

The author reports elsewhere that the system works with cowpeas as well.;


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