Axiom’s growing attention to Africa’s pig potential

25-10-2023 | |
Axiom’s genetics are being used to inseminate local pig breeds in Africa. Photo: Axiom

Asia may have caught the public eye when it comes to rapid development, but there’s another continent waiting to capture vast growth in pig production: Africa. French breeding organisation Axiom has seen a threefold growth over 2023 and is expecting more.

At the annual French livestock exhibition SPACE, held in September 2023, breeding organisation Axiom held a knowledge session for interested potential business partners from Africa. It was the first time the organisation had held an event like this outside Africa, with French being the language of communication. The company welcomed about 25 interested guests, from six different countries, who together engaged in lively discussions.

Expansion of pig business in Africa

The organisation’s pig business in Africa has been developing steadily. In the first 8 months of 2023, Axiom exported 2,800 doses of semen to various African countries, which constitutes a threefold increase compared to 2022. In addition, breeding pig exports are also picking up. With a customer in Cameroon, an agreement has been signed for 120 breeding animals, delivery preferably still in 2023. Talks are ongoing with two customers in Ivory Coast and one in Burkina Faso for the supply of breeding pigs.

Sigrid Willems, export manager Axiom. Photo: Twan Wiermans
Sigrid Willems, export manager Axiom. Photo: Twan Wiermans

Semen is always delivered fresh, explains the company’s export manager Sigrid Willems. She adds, “In many places, there is no electricity, so semen storage is not possible. In addition, storing and using frozen semen requires knowledge and materials that are not always there. So we end up delivering fresh products.”

Education programme

The programme at SPACE, which lasted for several hours, consisted of 4 blocks. After an introductory round, including an introduction of the breeder, the association AVE was introduced. This is a team of retired French agricultural consultants advising about agricultural projects in emerging countries, both locally and remotely. A roundtable discussion closed off the event, but then everybody received an explanation about an Axiom manual on how to care for pigs. It includes explanations on basic things like breeds, weights, insemination, biosecurity, as well as farrowing. Willems explains: “People often don’t know about these kinds of basic things.”

For the African market, Axiom offers purebred sows and F1 animals. The package includes 4 terminal sires. In practice, the application of genetics does not always follow standards that are common in Europe. It happens regularly that finishing pigs are produced using purebred animals and the slaughter pigs are from a Landrace or Yorkshire sow.

Potential for pig farming in Africa

According to Willems, there is potential in pig farming in Africa. She can tell because of the growing number of enquiries from the continent. That is why, early in October, the breeding organisation aimed to attend the Sara agricultural fair in Ivory Coast.

What makes Axiom invest in Africa?

“Africa is a growth market. We expect to export 3 times more doses of semen this year than last year. By the beginning of September, we had sold 2,800 doses. It is a little bit comparable to China. With foreign input, producers aim to develop their pig sector, and do so in their own way. The pigs also bring in relatively large amounts of money, between € 3 and € 5 per kg. Nevertheless, small farms with few financial buffers are sometimes forced to stop again. We export both semen and animals. With a suitable partner, we would also be open to starting up an insemination centre or a breeding farm.”

Photo: Axiom
Axiom’s genetics are being used to inseminate local pig breeds in Africa. Photo: Axiom

What kind of farms are we talking about?

“They are very diverse and the answer depends on the country. There are farms with a few to a maximum of ten sows. But there are also farms with 200 or 300 sows. In Ivory Coast, Cameroon and South Africa, the pig sector is the most developed. Certainly the last-mentioned country already has well-performing farms.”

How much interest is there in investing in Africa – surely the real growth markets are in Asia?

“The scale cannot be compared. In Asia, there are farms with 10,000 sows. Nevertheless, the development of the pig sector in Africa cannot be underestimated either. There is definitely a future in that.”

Isn’t there a risk to high quality genetics if producers have relatively little experience with pigs?

“That is why we always emphasise that genetics is one factor in pig production, but not the main factor. We have manuals showing how pigs should be cared for. That way we point out topics like nutrition, management and biosecurity. It’s really about the entire picture. AVE advisers are also onsite and we sometimes refer to colleagues on the ground. We only indicate what can be extracted from the pigs with our genetic potential.”


van Dooren
Kees van Dooren Reporter Boerderij
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