‘Be innovative to meet demand for rabbit meat’

Ashton Mutyavaviri

EFFORTS to grow the rabbit industry continue to gain traction with the Chinese Embassy funding a training programme for farmers in Harare this week amid calls for farmers to be innovative to meet demand for rabbit meat.

Guest of honour at the event, Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Deputy Minister Dr Davis Marapira underscored the importance of collaborations between the Government, private sector stakeholders, research institutions and farmer organisations.

“By working together, we can leverage on collective expertise and resources to drive innovation, promote best practices and overcome challenges facing the rabbit farming industry,” said Dr Marapira.

He said it was very important for rabbit producers to establish linkages with Chinese markets, as China consumes a staggering one million tonnes of rabbit meat annually, with 600, 000 tonnes produced domestically and 400,000 tonnes imported.

“We want to introduce rabbits into the Presidential Programmes. If we can have breeding stocks and grow them, we can also give rabbits the same treatment we are giving chickens,” he added.

Dr Marapira further highlighted that Government was going to engage the Chinese to discuss the necessary procedures for exporting rabbit meat to the Asian country just like what is happening with horticultural produce and tobacco.

Government’s major objective at the moment is to grow the rural areas because 70 percent of the population is in rural areas.

He urged all stakeholders to embrace the principles of sustainability, inclusivity, resilience and prioritise the welfare of farmers, uphold high standards of animal welfare and strive for equitable access to market opportunities.

Zimbabwe now boasts one of the largest rabbit abattoirs in Africa, a development that aligns perfectly with the Zimbabwe Commercial Rabbit Breeders Association’s (ZICORBA) strategy of exporting rabbit meat.

It is estimated that the local industry has the potential to generate approximately US$2, 5 million in earnings annually.

“The recognition of the potential of rabbit farming is why we have included rabbit production in our strategy for small ruminants as outlined in our five-year livestock development plan,” added Dr Marapira.

He added that rabbit production could create employment opportunities and improve the livelihoods of many people.

The Ministry is finalising the review of the Agriculture Food Systems and Rural Transformation Strategy where to date the value of the livestock sector is at US$900 million and the aim is to have a US$2 billion livestock sector by 2025 as outlined in the Livestock Recovery Growth Plan, said Dr Marapira.

ZICORBA president Mr Regis Nyamakanga said the association had forged strategic alliances with rabbit farming associations across Africa, fostering a collaborative ecosystem conducive to knowledge exchange and mutual growth.

“Value addition initiatives are also gaining traction, with the introduction of rabbit burgers, pies, pizzas, sausage rolls and biltong in our flagship eatery, Rabbit Grills, as well as in hotels and supermarkets,” said Mr Nyamakanga.

Chinese Embassy in Zimbabwe economic and commercial counsellor Mr Huang Minghai said China was committed to helping Zimbabwe improve its agricultural infrastructure.

“China is committed to expanding imports of agricultural products from Zimbabwe. We are Zimbabwe’s largest buyer of agro-products. In 2023, China imported agro-products from Zimbabwe worth US$682 million, accounting for 40 percent of China’s total imports from Zimbabwe,” he said.

 

 

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