By Ndafadza Madanha
RABBIT production in Zimbabwe is set for a major boost following approval for the importation of 200 purebred rabbits from South Africa.
Newly created apex association for rabbit producers the Zimbabwe Commercial Rabbit Breeders Association (ZiCORBA) says the purebred rabbits were sourced from a world renowned and perennial awarding winning breeder based in South Africa.
“This will bolster commercial rabbit production in Zimbabwe and support those venturing into this nascent industry. ZiCORBA hope to introduce the majority of the 1,8 million households in Zimbabwe into the cash economy, through commercial production for both the domestic and export market” said ZiCORBA in a statement released through Livestock and Meat Advisory Council.
Rabbit production is one of the fastest growing sub-sectors of the small-livestock sector because of the health and economic benefits of rabbit meat, which falls under the most sought-after organic food and white meat.
The advantages of keeping rabbits over other livestock are many and it requires minimal initial capital outlay.
According to ZiCORBA, Zimbabwe, Kenya, South Africa and Egypt are among some of the top producers of rabbit meat in Africa. Global rabbit meat production is currently estimated at just over 1 million tonnes worth USD 6,5 billion, with China accounting for 65 percent of global meat consumption, followed by the Democratic Republic of Korea and Egypt.
According to research rabbit production has an immense potential. It also has good attributes which include high growth rate, high efficiency in converting forage to meat, a short gestation period, high prolificacy and a relatively low cost of production.
The meat has a high nutritional quality which includes low fat of 6.8% (lower than all livestock species), low sodium and cholesterol levels. It also has a high protein level of about 20, 8%, high dressing -out percentage of 60% (higher than all livestock except poultry) and its consumption is bereft of many cultural and religious biases.