Young agriprenuer turns conventional swine production into a sustainable enterprise

by Lindsey Francy Jan 30, 2023 News
Young agriprenuer turns conventional swine production into a sustainable enterprise
Rico Ecunar with a satisfied customer on their 300 pesos pork campaign (Rico Ecunar)

The author is James Tababa.

Rico was close to following in his family's footsteps and becoming a medical nurse. His parents started the swine production business and he saw the potential to improve it.

The owner of Pork and Greens is a young man named Ecunar. When African Swine Fever (ASF) hit Central Luzon in 2020 and forced all swine raisers in the area to sell their pigs at lower prices, his parents stopped raising pigs in their backyard.

The local government declared the area free from the disease in 2021. A yearly competition under the Department of Agriculture aims to support the youth in establishing their agriculture based businesses. The winner of the program is Ecunar.

Pork and Greens at KADIWA Trade Fair by DA region 3. Pork and Greens joins food bazaars to showcase their products. (Rico Ecunar)

According to the PSA data, the Philippine demand for pork will remain dependent on imports until at least 2025. The demand for pork is high, but the supply is low.

Ecunar wants to change the way his parents produce swine.

It is possible to have sustainable farming.

Pork and Greens is a business that combines swine production, rice, and vegetable farming. It wants to be more sustainable by converting waste into useful materials. Feeding forages can be planted to minimize the cost of feeds.

We try to use every waste from the swine production in a different way. The pig waste is converted to liquid and dry. The fields were fertilized.

Behind Ecunar is their rice field fertilized with manure fertilizer from pig waste. (Rico Ecunar)

Waste is collected from a tank. The accumulated liquid and manure can be used tofertilize the soil or irrigation water. The liquidfertilizer is used as afoliar by Ecunar and is sprayed on Sorghum just before it flowers.

The waste from the tank is left to dry after the liquid is collected. The dried waste is referred to as manurefertilizer. Before planting rice, urea is put into the soil. The rice harvest went up because of the swine manure fertilizers. We usually harvest 50 cavans of rice. Ecunar said that using manurefertilizer made them less dependent on inorganicfertilizer.

The production of gas from waste.

Ecunar converts waste into gas that can be used to cook.

A biogas digester is constructed using low-cost materials The drums collect methane from the septic tanks which can be used as biogas to cook in the kitchen. (Rico Ecunar)

The methane comes from the waste of animals. It can be produced through the natural process of anaerobicbacteria. The methane is collected by installing a digester above the tank.

It is easy to convert animal waste into gas. It should be taught to all backyard wine raisers to reduce the bad smell.

The swine production is not visible.

Foul odor is one of the main problems of backyard swine production. This form of air pollution is a nuisance to neighbors and can cause health risks.

The real cause of the foul odor is improper waste management and disposal, not the types and quality feeds that are fed to the pigs.

Pigs in their wallowing pond (Rico Ecunar)

Rice hull is applied to the flooring to absorb excess water in the pig pens. The price of rice hull became too expensive because of the increased demand during the Pandemic.

The use of rice isn't enough to completely remove the foul odor, which is why research institutions recommend the addition of microorganisms and bio activators.

A system of odorless swine raising without the need for bio activators was adopted by Ecunar because of the increased cost of rice hull. There is a way to get this done by installing a tank for waste collection and a digester for methane gas.

A small pond is located inside the pigpen. The pigs are trained to use the bathroom in the pond. Pig's are smart When they feel hot, they wash. The clean animals urinate and defecate in certain places.

The method reduces the amount of labor required. Omission swine production is dependent on this practice.

Production of swine

Landrace is a cross of Large white. A lot of pigs are produced by the crossbreed.

Pigs in pigpen. The rice hull helps absorb moisture to minimize the foul odor. (Rico Ecunar)

The mother pigs are inseminated with a breed of pig. A high average daily gain and efficient feed conversion ratio can be achieved with this cross. In less than four months, the triple cross pig breed will reach the desired selling weight.

The swine production takes 115 days from conception to farrowing and another four months to reach market weight.

Part 1 is about finding the right breed.

Forage crops for pigs.

Sorghum is planted for supplemental feeding. Sorghum can be ratooned if it is cut only the top part of the plant. Sorghum has the same amount ofProtein as corn. Sorghum is more tolerant of the weather's quirks. It requires less work.

Harvested sorghum used as a feed supplement for the pigs. Sorghum is a feed source of protein. The sorghum that Ecunar grows is applied with liquid fertilizer from the pigs’ waste. (Rico Ecunar)

The mulberries are growing around the area. Duckweed and azolla can be produced by constructing ponds. These are easy to make. Duckweed and azolla are fed as an additional supplement to help the hogs reach their ideal weight quicker.

The backyard swine disease is managed.

It's called marketing.

People within the locality are his first clients. I feel a bit uneasy. He said that if you have a goal in business, you shouldn't feel embarrassed.

Live pigs are used in his products. A butcher is hired to slaughter the pigs and sell retail pork. He pre-sells the meat by posting it on social media or contacting his regulars. The number of customers can be increased by offering free delivery.

Pork products showcased in KADIWA trade fair (Rico Ecunar)

He uses social media to market his product. His business expands and he gets more referrals. Most of the bulk buyers and regulars were online.

Good-quality products must be maintained. He doesn't sell pigs that weigh less than 90 kilogram. The back fat thickness of the pork he sells is thin, which is a good trait for customers to look for. The customers are guaranteed to be happy and satisfied with their purchases.

The local government unit and the regional office of the Department of Agriculture were partners. Some of the products they offer are vacuum-sealed fresh pork and pre-marinated pork.

There is a demand for high quality pork in the area. Pork is still in demand. The amount of pork that Ercuna is able to produce depends on the production area that he has. He wants to double his production.

The farm could be a learning site for the youth to start their own swine production business. He is the president of the Young Farmers Club of the Philippines.

There are tips on how to start a swine business.

Rico Ecunar gave us the photos. has information about farming and gardening.