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Doctoral thesis, 2023

Smallholders and pigs in northern Uganda : an ethnographic study of pig rearing, disease management and local knowledges

Arvidsson, Anna


In Uganda, pig numbers have increased rapidly in recent decades, with the majority reared by smallholder farmers in rural areas. It has been suggested that pig production can play an important role in reducing rural poverty. However, the severe and often fatal disease of African swine fever (ASF) represents a major threat to the Ugandan pig sector, hampering its potential to mitigate poverty. This thesis work is situated in post-conflict northern Uganda and aims to contribute knowledge about the challenges that smallholders face in pig production, paying particular attention to ASF. A discourse analysis of policy documents informing the Ugandan veterinary and agriculture sector was combined with ethnographic fieldwork among smallholders in northern Uganda. Results show that pig diseases such as ASF are one of many challenges faced by smallholders who keep pigs. Besides the obstacle of pig diseases and the associated difficulties commonly experienced, smallholders described social tensions caused by the possibility of accumulating individual wealth through pig production. The findings also reveal that smallholders have very limited access to veterinary services and are therefore heavily dependent on the resources and knowledge available in their local communities when dealing with pig diseases. In contrast to the dominant development narrative found in agricultural policies, which focus on transforming smallholder farming into large-scale agriculture, smallholders often perceive their own pig production as a potential launch pad out of poverty, rather than as a means to become large-scale farmers. Despite all the challenges associated with pig rearing, most smallholders continue to invest in pigs in the hope of improving their everyday lives and their future.


Pig production; African swine fever; smallholders; local knowledge; Uganda

Published in

Acta Universitatis Agriculturae Sueciae
2023, number: 2023:50
ISBN: 978-91-8046-152-8, eISBN: 978-91-8046-153-5
Publisher: Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Economic Geography
    Social Sciences Interdisciplinary

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