Pig genetic resource conservation: The Southern African perspective
Local pigs in Southern Africa are an important component of resource-based subsistence farming systems and contribute substantially to the improvement of livelihoods of farmers. In addition to utilising by-products and feed resources that are otherwise of no use, they serve various socio-economic functions. The numbers, breeds and population genetic structures, attributes and risk status of these pigs are understudied. In the few studies to date, they have been shown to be tolerant to parasites that are endemic in their production environment. They also have a better chance to survive various disease outbreaks and have a higher capacity to utilise fibrous and poor quality feed resources compared to exotic breeds. Their production environment has also been described with women owning most of the pigs. The farmers tend to keep the herd sizes small in order to adequately meet the animals' nutrition needs. This leads to small populations that are vulnerable to inbreeding and disasters. In addition, there are no incentive systems in place to promote conservation of the pigs. There is an urgent need to address research and policy gaps, and to formulate strategies for the conservation of this resource.
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