Rabbit producers grapple with soaring meat demand

Ashton Mutyavaviri
RABBIT producers are struggling to meet rising demand for rabbit meat on both domestic and export markets, which is frustrating the industry’s efforts to optimise its potential to become a big contributor in growing the country’s agro-based economy.Zimbabwe Commercial Rabbit Breeders Association (ZICORBA) president Mr Regis Nyamakanga said the industry was failing to produce enough meat to supply both local and export markets.

“We have received orders for rabbit meat in Kenya and Botswana but we had to turn them down as a result of low production levels,” he explained.

Projections suggest that the rabbit industry could generate over US$2, 5 million from domestic sales in the next five years, driven by factors such as access to affordable breeding stock, funding availability, quick gestation periods, broad-based participation, increased rabbit slaughterhouses and growing domestic consumption, he added.

He went further to say the country had potential to export to countries like China whose requirements exceed 400 000 tonnes of meat annually, which further adds to the sector’s promising outlook.

Mr Nyamakanga said rabbit production was a catalyst for economic development, offering employment opportunities, generating foreign currency and overall improving livelihoods.

Added Mr Nyamakanga: “ZICORBA will soon launch a contract growing scheme for rabbit farmers to shore up production. We hope the contract growing scheme will help boost production, which will enable us to meet demand for rabbit meat on both the local and export markets.”

Failure to meet demand in both local and export markets has not only impacted the revenue potential for rabbit farmers but has also highlighted the missed opportunity for economic growth and job creation in Zimbabwe.

The industry has witnessed an increase in rabbit farming with the number of rabbit farmers skyrocketing from 5 000 in 2020 to an impressive 25 000 at the beginning of this year.

However, 90 percent are producing for subsistence or for selling within their communities creating shortages on the market, he said.

ZICORBA has partnered with other rabbit producing entities in South Africa, Kenya, Uganda, Botswana, Mozambique, Nigeria and Eswatini to exchange breeds, knowledge and technical knowhow, said Mr Nyamakanga.

Meanwhile, one rabbit producer Mr Gift Jambaya said the industry needed adequate support to ensure enough supply of rabbit meat for both local and export markets.

“It will be helpful if we are to get financial support through loans to buy feed, cages and other requirements,” he added.

He encouraged farmers to have their own sources of water and utilise the little resources they have to increase production.

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