The agricultural sector plays a pivotal role in the country’s economy, providing livelihoods for millions of people and contributing significantly to Ghana’s GDP. About 52 % of the labour force is engaged in agriculture, 29 % in services, and 19 % in industry. Approximately, 39 % of the farm labour force is women. Agriculture contributes up to 54 % of Ghana’s GDP, and accounts for over 40 % of export earnings, while at the same time providing over 90 % of the food needs of the country. Within this diverse sector, the pork industry holds a special place, as the sub-sector is rising at an impressive rate well above that of other livestock products. According to Majekodunmi et al., 2019, pig production in Ghana has increased at a rate of 10.5% annually over the last 15 years, both in terms of intensive/commercial and extensive/free-ranging animals.
To ensure the growth of the industry certain activities related to it needs to be celebrated and one of such is Porktober.
Porktober: it’s origins
Originating in the United States, October was the month that pigs were traditionally marketed across farms in the United States. Years later this morphed to mark a month set aside in most parts of the world as a month of the pig. The term “Porktober” is therefore a creative variation of “pork” and “October,” used to commemorate pig-related activities for the month.
The growth of the pig industry in Ghana in recent years, driven mainly by the efforts of individual members of the Pig Farmer’s Association of Ghana (PFAG) and other factors such as population growth, urbanization, and changing consumer preferences. PFAG decided to introduce Porktober to Ghana and use it as a platform to showcase the potential of the pork industry to meet its growing demand while stimulating economic growth and investment in the sector.
To that end for close to seven years, every October the Association marks Porktober in Ghana and uses it as an opportunity to promote pork products and educate consumers on the benefits of including pork in their diets. The association encourages restaurants, food stalls, and eateries across the country to embrace the spirit of Porktober by crafting special pork-based dishes that showcase the skill and creativity of local chefs.
Boosting Economic Growth and Livelihoods
Pork production in Ghana is a multifaceted industry that involves a diverse range of stakeholders, from small-scale farmers to processors and vendors. The pork sub-sector provides employment opportunities for a wide range of people, from smallholder farmers who raise pigs to processors, butchers, and vendors who prepare and sell pork products. This industry supports livelihoods and contributes to poverty reduction in both rural and urban areas.
Porktober holds immense economic significance as it serves as a platform to promote pork consumption and boost sales. The month-long celebration often involves various marketing initiatives, discounts, and promotions that stimulate consumer interest in pork products. This surge in demand not only benefits pig farmers and processors but also supports related industries such as feed suppliers, veterinary services, and transportation services. By creating a spike in sales, Porktober contributes to higher incomes and improved livelihoods for individuals and communities reliant on the pork value chain.
Promoting Food Security and Sustainability
The pork industry also plays a role in enhancing food security in Ghana. As a relatively affordable source of protein, pork contributes to a balanced diet for many Ghanaians. The sustainable management of pig farming practices ensures a consistent supply of pork products, helping to address nutritional needs across the nation.
Efforts are being made to promote sustainable pig farming practices, focusing on animal welfare, and disease control. Porktober serves as an opportunity to educate both producers and consumers about these sustainable practices, fostering a more responsible and resilient pork industry. It gives players in the sub-sector the opportunity to showcase the many advantages that are to be derived from the consumption of pork as well as promote its consumption as a healthier alternative to some of the well-known animal protein sources in the country.
Porktober stands as a vibrant tribute to the pork industry in Ghana, it is a testament to the vitality and importance of the pork industry in Ghana. By showcasing the economic, and nutritional significance of pork, this annual event not only brings joy to food lovers but also highlights the critical role the pork industry plays in shaping the nation’s economy and food security. Porktober also helps promote the consumption of pork, encourages sustainable practices, and highlights pig farming as a career path for the youth. As this annual celebration continues to evolve, it will likely play an increasingly vital role in shaping the future of the pork industry in Ghana.
The Author is a co-founder of Tilly’s Farm Limited and also the Vice-President of the Pig Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG).