Diminishing arable land paves way for rabbit farming

Diminishing land size and highly unpredictable weather conditions have birthed the fanatical uptake and commercialization of rabbit rearing which was traditional viewed as a boy’s hobby but which is now raking farmers millions as demand for rabbit meat soars both locally and internationally.

In Kajiado County, a number of farmers have ventured into rabbit rearing. Given the many advantages of rabbit meat, including high nutritive value, small rearing space, relatively cheaper feeds, many residents are getting in to it.

Through public-private sector partnerships, the Ministry of Agriculture in collaboration with some Non-Governmental Organisations like Arid Lands Information Network have conducted a number of farmer training seminars on rabbit keeping and the response has been overwhelming. NGOs, donor organisations, governments and food processing companies have all realized there is need to expand food production to counter shortages and the escalating price of grain, vegetables and livestock products while at the same time helping farmers earn from their ventures. According to Agenda, several pastoralists in Kajiado County have been trained on rabbit keeping. Major emphasis is put on the importance of value addition to the products to increase marketability enabling farmers to fetch more returns.

This has also been boosted by the ongoing construction of a tannery in Isinya. Another important move is to bring on board more players in the rabbit business as entrepreneurs. By embracing rabbit keeping, farmers will now have a constant source of income all year long irrespective of weather conditions. For maximum gains, farmers have been advised to form common interest groups to share ideas and also form strong marketing lobbies.

Though still in its infancy, if well governed, the rabbit sector has been identified as a sector that could create many jobs through slaughterhouses and rabbit butcheries. "There is hope that this emerging practice will change the fortunes of the community around Kajiado County," said Agenda. The launch of Agricultural Sector Development Support Programme, a five year programme by the Government has strategically placed value chain development as one of its main goals. This will benefit rabbit farmers.