Pigs in Papua New Guinea

Pigs were probably introduced from the Moluccas and there is some evidence that they may have been introduced as long ago as 10,000 years BP. Austronesian-speakers seem to have introduced pigs of a different kind at some later time. Pigs have always been of social and political, as well as economic, importance. Wild pigs are hunted for food. Domestic pigs are slaughtered for food when other sources of protein are unavailable, but mostly kept for important ceremonial occasions, either within a village or in exchange arrangements with neighboring groups. In the highlands especially complex exchange systems involving pigs have developed which serve both trading and political purposes. Other breeds of pigs have been introduced since colonization.

The most notable feature of the PNG pig industry is the 1.8 million village pigs, mainly indigenous breeds, that produce some 27 000 tonnes of pig meat annually. These pigs are owned by 60% of all households (1990 census). In the highlands provinces, 77% of the population claimed pig
ownership. This figure was more than 80% if Eastern Highlands Province was excluded and was as high as 89% in Enga Province.

Commercial pigs are slaughtered in four registered abattoirs. Of the 29 600 pigs slaughtered in 2005, the Lae abattoir accounted for 45% and Abunaka, a private pig farm near Lae, 38%. With an average carcase weight of 48 kg, this gives a commercial annual production of 1420 tonnes. However, this does not allow for the very large number of live sales and there has been a steady but slow increase since the 1000–1200 tonne estimates of the 1990s. There are currently about 32 000 pigs on commercial farms and total production is estimated as 2300 tonnes. Sow numbers on large farms may be declining but village production is steadily increasing.

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