The major constraints to the development of a commercial pig and poultry sector in Tonga are the lack of a local feed manufacturing industry, the high cost of imported feed, and cheap meat and egg imports. This has led to a reduction in the number of pig and poultry producers over recent years, despite the adequate local supplies of cassava, sweet potato, fresh coconut and maize that could form the basis of the feed industry. This project aimed to establish a local livestock feed manufacturing industry to revitalise the Tongan pig and poultry industries. Project members provided training for Tongan government staff and key producers, enabling them to learn about profitable pig and poultry feeding systems developed in current ACIAR pig and poultry projects in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands. They also learnt to operate mini mills and received instruction on how to feed pig and poultry - using concentrates, ration dilution and whole-ration formulation out of local feed resources. Farmers and students observed demonstrations of feeding systems suitable for Tonga, both on-station at the Livestock Division of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food, Forests and Fisheries (MAFFF ) and at Tupou College (which trains high school students in pig and poultry production).
Livestock production is an important economic activity in Tonga with 80% of households keeping livestock. The pig and poultry industries are an important part of social life with nearly 80% pigs and just over 50% of poultry produced being used to meet community social obligations. Retail prices are comparable with Australia and the sale of live sucker and weaner pigs for feasts accounts for 90% of the pig market. The major issues restraining the development of a commercial pig and poultry sector are the lack of a local feed manufacturing industry, the high cost of imported feed and the importation of relatively cheap pig and poultry meat, mainly coming from Australia, New Zealand and Canada. This has resulted in a reduction in the number of pig and poultry producers over recent years.
This project aims to establish a local feed manufacturing industry to revitalise the Tongan pig and poultry industries. The strategy being used is to train Tongan government staff and key producers about profitable pig and poultry feeding systems using approaches developed in other South Pacific countries and in Indonesia to implement in Tonga.
Three livestock farmers and a government scientist undertook a study tour to the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea from 10-20 August, 2007. They spent two days in the Solomon Island and five days in PNG and met with local R&D staff and NGO’s and learnt about the operation of mini-mills and received instruction on how to feed pig and poultry using concentrates, ration dilution and whole ration formulation using local feed resources.
Following the study tour all the project partners met in Tonga from 17-20 October 2007 and agreed to demonstrate suitable feeding systems for pigs and poultry in Tonga based on examples observed in PNG and Solomon Islands. A mini mill was purchased from PNG and shipped to Tonga in April 2008 for establishment at Tonga’s Ministry of Agriculture, Food, Forests & Fisheries (MAFFF) research centre. Feeding trials with pigs and poultry to demonstrate the most profitable feeding systems that incorporate local feeds will be run at MAFFF’s research centre prior to wide-spread dissemination across the Tongan pig and poultry industry. The other Tongan agencies supporting the initiative are the Ministry of Training, Employment, Youth and Sport (MOTEYS) which run an Agriculture Diploma Program and Tupou College which trains high school students in pig and poultry production.
The use of cheaper local feed in the alternative feeding systems could lead to an expansion of the smallholder egg and chicken meat and pork sectors, with these farmers making a significant contribution to the meat requirements of the country. If 10% of local feed could be used in pig and poultry rations to replace the imported feed, this would save Tonga an estimated TOP$5.75m/annum in imports.
Project members held a workshop for partners at MAFFF Headquarters, Nuku’alofa, Tonga in October 2007. Participants agreed at the meeting that the pig and poultry farmers’ association should establish a mini mill in partnership with MAFFF. They recommended the purchase of a flake mill, drier, hammer mill and mixer. Three Tongan livestock farmers and a government scientist undertook a study tour to Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea. They spent two days in Solomons Islands and five days in Papua New Guinea and met with local research staff and non-government organisations to learn about the operation of mini mills. The Tongan delegation received advice on how to feed pigs and poultry, using concentrates, ration dilution and whole-ration formulation out of local feed resources.
Following the study tour all the project partners discussed suitable feeding systems that could be used for pigs and poultry in Tonga based on examples observed in Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands. A mini mill was purchased from Papua New Guinea and shipped to Tonga for establishment on a commercial egg farm. Feeding trials with pigs and poultry to demonstrate the feeding systems that incorporate local feeds were run at Tupou College and on a commercial egg farm.
For the pig feeding trial, pigs weighing 10-20 kg were allocated to three dietary treatments over a four-week period: 1) a village diet (containing fresh cassava, fresh coconut and fresh sweet potato vines); 2) a milled diet (containing 80% of local feed resources); 3) a commercial imported grower diet.
For the poultry trial over 8 weeks, adult layers were provided three dietary treatments: 1) a commercial imported layer diet; 2) a commercial imported layer diet diluted with 30% copra meal; 3) a village diet (containing maize, copra meal, fish meal and cassava meal).
In the pig trial, the commercial diet resulted in better growth by comparison with the village diet. Likewise, in the layer trial superior egg production was noted when birds were fed the commercial layer diet compared with the village diet. However, the birds fed the diet diluted with 30% copra meal had equivalent performance to birds fed the commercial diet, raising the potential for using dilution of commercial feeds with locally abundant feed resources as a feeding system. Currently the feeding trials are being repeated using good quality copra meal, since the copra meal used in the pig and poultry feeding trials was spoiled during the drying process.
The use of local copra meal to dilute commercial rations is recommended as the best feeding system tested so far in Tonga for pigs and poultry. This feeding system could lead to an expansion of the smallholder egg and chicken meat and pork sectors and make a significant contribution to the meat requirements of the country.