Rearing a hope
Ex-armyman turned pig farmer Arabinda Hira exemplifies the huge potential pig farming has in the Northeast
He is one of the soldiers who conquered the adversity of the world’s highest battlefield, the Siachen glacier. Back home as an ex-serviceman, he has launched another battle to motivate the young blood of the rural areas to make work a religion as lethargy is fomenting the burgeoning unemployment problem in many rural areas.
Meet Arabindra Hira, once a haviladr of 15 Assam Regiment deployed at the highest hostile territory in the world and now a progressive pig farmer. Hira says he opted for this vocation to show the path of self dependency to rural youth.
From a piggery unit located at village Gargora in Kamrup district of Assam, Hira earns over a lakh every year. “My main objective is not to mint money but to establish the fact that instead we can be economically self-reliant not through white collar jobs but by farming too,” says Hira. He feels there is no way except generating a “work culture” among our people to successfully fight the social evil -- unemployment.
Dr. Madan KumarTamuli, principal scientist (Animal Reproduction) of Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR)’s National Research Centre on Pig, tells this correspondent that he is “overwhelmed by the commitment of Hira to farming despite being an ex-serviceman.”
The NRC on Pig has successfully conducted Artificial Insemination (AI) for the first time on the pigs reared by Hira. “ Seeing his commitment to the farming as well as his objective of disseminating the idea of farming, we selected him in 2014 for sharing information with the farmers of Punjab regarding the pig rearing,” Tamuli said. Sadly, Hira failed to make it to the tour due to some unavoidable circumstances. Hira was replaced by his younger brother who was a part of a three-member group of progressive farmers sent by ICAR from Assam to Punjab. The objective of the delegates was to encourage the farmers of Punjab towards pig farming. Punjab is self sufficient in everything barring piggery and fishery.
Talking about why he chose to go for pig farming, Hira says animal husbandry requires little care. “Two to four hours every day are enough to devote time. What matters more is maintaining hygiene. So, a pig farmer can do other jobs as well.”
According to Hira, rural areas are blessed with land resources which are unfortunately lying unused. “Youth should come forward to harness the agriculture potential of the state,” he adds.
As far as marketing is concerned, he says buyers flock to his unit, a low-cost concrete structure. Besides running the piggery, Hira tilled Bao paddy in his village to motivate youth to takew to farming. He says he was prtially succeesful in that regard.
Insisting on the need of the state governments to patronize pig farming in the northeast to uplift rural economy, Dr. Tamuli tells Nezine.com, “Northeast is home to the largest number of pork consumers but there is still a gap between demand and supply. ICAR-NRC on pig has 1,596 registered farmers from 245 villages including Meghalaya. The attitude of farmers are slowly changing for the better. Earlier, farmers refrained from breeding but now they are turning from pig fattener to pig breeders which indicates a bright future for the sector.”
The senior scientist says, “AI on pig is easier than the AI on cow and goat. As many as 15 farmers have already learned how to inject AI. So under NRC on Pig, there are now 15 such farmers-cum-inseminators.”
Notably, Tamuli was the trailblazer who successfully conducted AI on pig in Assam on November 18, 1981. The first ever AI injected pig produced 8 litters.
Northeast shares over 38 percent of the total pig population of the country and about 80 percent tribal population of the region are commercially involved in the sector. Despite having a potential to contribute to rural economy, the sector has failed to make headway for reasons like poor availability of quality breeding animals, poor growth of indigenous pigs, increase in the incidence of diseases, lack of sound breeding programmes, etc.
Dr. Prashanta Kumar Rabha, the farm manager of the Base Pig Breeding Farm, Khanapara, sugests popularising the concept of breeding farm concept in the region to narrow the widening gap of demand-supply. “Breeding Farm is must to develop the rural economy because demand of pork is escalating in comparison to the supply,” he says.
A first of its kind in Assam, the Khanapara base farm is aimed at producing piglets and entrepreneurs. Used as a demonstration farm as wel, it provides training on pig farming to potential farmers. AI born piglets at the base farm are supplied to government-run farms located in Dibrugarh, Jorhat, Morigaon, Sonapur, Kokrajhar, etc. The farm which houses 80 breeders has growing and quarantine houses as well.
Photo and Text- Kishore Talukdar
(Kishore Talukdar is an independent journalist based in Guwahati. His areas of interest include Development journalism and Environment journalism. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org )