BESH, a farmers’ organization in the Hohenlohe region of Germany, owes its reputation to the mastery of local pig breeding. The hardiness of this white and black pig, makes it suitable for extensive and ecological breeding.
Not a step in the community of Braunbach without seeing on the street corner or on the front of the houses an effigy of the black and white pig, typical colors of the «Schwäbisch-Hällische Schweine», name of the local pig of the south of Germany.
This traditional pig, which has become the emblem of a whole region, is tamed by local farmers organized around a mythical farmers’ organization (FO) called «Bäuerliche Erzeugergemeinschaft Schwäbisch Hall», abbreviated BESH. Created in 1988, this FO was able to rehabilitate the two-colored pig which was once on the verge of extinction due to the growth of industrial breeding in Germany.
Black and white pig
Between quality and quantity, the choice of the BESH farmers was made in favor of quality. Breeding methods without chemical synthesis are encouraged. The return to traditional know-how has made it possible to enhance the value of black and white pig as well as beef and lamb breeding in the region. Several members are adopting organic production techniques.
Frietz Waltar, a farmer in his eighties, runs a family pig farm. Some of the pigs are kept in large enclosures opened to daylight, with shelters for resting. There is no question of keeping the pigs in batteries or cages where they have difficulties to move.
Others are raised in the open air. Here, the pigs roam in the forest space where they enjoy a natural environment like warthogs. Twice a day, the old farmer visits them to serve them supplementary food consisting mainly of cereals prepared by him and drinking water in a tank fed with biogas.
This style of agroecological breeding gives the pig meat an unbeatable quality and a unique taste recognized by experts. «At the last livestock fair in Germany, BESH won the prize for the best pork,» says Frieder Wieland, farmer and member of the organization.
Thanks to the dynamism of its 1,500 members, BESH has developed slaughterhouses and commercial spaces, as well as hotels and restaurants where members’ products are sold at better prices than those of other farmers.
«For a long time, we laughed at farmers who did traditional farming. Today, we’re all glad they saved the local pig. Not only do they preserve the traditional know-how, but they also ensure a decent income,» says Frieder Wieland.
The local market is the priority of this FO. A system of traceability of the production chain is rigorously applied. The internal monitoring of production by the organization itself makes it possible to avoid the exorbitant costs of organic certification, while maintaining the quality of the products at organic standards.
Respect for the land
«My father used to say that it is difficult to get two farmers to agree. BESH has been able to bring together 1,500 farmers,» says Rudolf Bühler, its founding president.
At the head of the organization since its creation, this farmer, a former employee of the German Technical Cooperation Agency (GTZ, ex-GIZ) in Africa, has made his colleagues unanimous on his vision of an ethical agriculture in which the local producer finds his fulfillment and the consumer, his well-being.
Marie Pauline Voufo