Commercializing Rabbitry for Food, Nutrition and Income Security in Uganda

Oct 26, 2013 | by Beatrice Luzobe | 4 Comments

Commercializing Rabbitry for Food, Nutrition and Income Security in Uganda

Rabbitry has a high potential to become one of the food and income security enterprises in Uganda. Rabbits have a number of attractive production characteristics, such as small body size, short generation interval, high reproductive potential, rapid growth rate, genetic diversity and the ability to utilize forages and by-products as major diet components that make them suitable as meat-producing small livestock in developing countries. They require less space than large livestock and environmentally friendly. The rabbit meat has a high market potential because is fine-grained; high in protein, low in fat, highly palatable, low in cholesterol, and can be substituted for poultry in most recipes. A rabbit meat survey done in 2011 estimated the initial demand in Kampala to be at about 5 tonnes per month.

 

Although domestic rabbits were introduced in Uganda by Christian missionaries in the 1870’s, commercialization of the enterprise is quite a new phenomenon because for a long time it was considered a pet and child-like business.  From the 1980-90s, there were efforts to promote rabbitry for food and income by both government and farmers organizations, which suffered a setback when it was considered “a get rich quick” business opportunity with unlimited market potential. Since the late 1990’s, the rabbitry industry has been at low ebb and the main factors that hindered the growth were:

  • Most farmers concentrated on production and sale of breeding stock and paid minimal attention to marketing of the principal product, rabbit meat.
  •  The lack of technical knowledge and resilience among the promoters and adopters. Many people posed as masters on the subject and circulated wrong information on management and marketing.
  • The over pricing and inability to present dressed rabbit meat leading to the failure to compete in the meat market and sustain interested consumers.
  • Predators and thieves that affected the farmers and they lost the morale to continue and expand.

 

Currently, there are renewed efforts to revive the rabbitry industry by interested individuals and organizations, of which Learn Enterprises Limited (LEL) is part.  

 

Learn Enterprises Limited with Rabbitry

The Company has selected rabbit farming as one of the unique but potential enterprises to develop.

Putting the lessons learnt from past experiences into consideration, LEL would like to be one of the pioneers in revamping rabbitry to become one of the major enterprises for food, nutrition and income security in Uganda. LEL’s vision in this area is to deliver high quality rabbit meat on the market in and around Kampala. LEL is mobilizing and working with other stakeholders along the value chain to achieve this vision. Under Learn Farms, the Company is establishing a large scale commercial rabbit farm (RabFarm), currently located in Kisaasi-Kampala, with a plan to transfer to Mukono as it expands. RabFarm produces and supplies rabbit meat (Rab-bite) to individuals and identified supermarkets.

 

The Rabbit Value Chain at RabFarm

rabbitry value chain

 

The company’s philosophy is grounded in working with both local and international stakeholders along this unique value chains. It is already mobilizing, networking and collaborating with several stakeholders and actors along the rabbit value chain.  The specific services offered at a fee are: consultations; on and off-Farm advisory services; hands-on training and demonstrations (always check website for update); business planning; promotion and marketing. In addition to these services, the company buys live rabbits (2kgs and more) for slaughter and has started out-growers.

 

Current Challenges  

For an industry to develop to commercial levels, various players along the value chain (from production to consumption) have to actively participate. The current challenge of rabbitry is the lack of government support, coupled by few players along the value.

  • Breeding: Currently, Tropical Rabbits Farm is almost the only breeding the New Zealand White in Uganda is. Many individual farmers who claim to be breeders lack the technical knowledge and facilities and therefore, the stock they sell may not be reliable.
  • Inputs: Since most farmers feed their rabbits on forage and kitchen wastes, the feed industry has not fully developed. Unlike for poultry, there are no yet specialized dealers in the manufacture and sale of other inputs like the rabbit mesh, feeders and drinkers.
  • Services: There are few specialized veterinary and advisory service providers in rabbitry and most of the advice given tends to be related to poultry yet a rabbit, being a mammal, is physiologically different. The same applies to the veterinary medical supplies, which can be obtained from all veterinary drug shops, where the dealers do not have any information on rabbits.
  • Capacity Development: There is a currently limited rabbitry training course at the agricultural institutes in Uganda. There capacity building of practicing and prospective farmers by technical people is scanty, while the farmer to farmer information is reliable due limited training and experience of those passing it on.
  • Production: There are scattered and isolated efforts of individuals farmers mainly and institutions from different districts in Uganda, rearing rabbits, but the focus on meat production is still very limited. Most of the individual farmers’ stock is still below the economic number.
  • Processing and marketing: Like the inputs level, this is another area where there are almost no players and yet for most of the individual farmers, slaughtering a rabbit is a nightmare. Learn Enterprise Limited has had to set up its own mini- rabbit meat processing unit to bridge this gap.

 

If the rabbitry industry is to be revived in Uganda, it calls for committed promoters with a business mind working with all the stakeholders along the value chain to bring the commercialization of rabbitry and marketing of rabbit meat to a reality. The government support and favorable policy environment are also very critical.

4 Comments

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Ibrahim Ahmed • 6 months ago

Thank you for the job well done. I really want to advance in Rabbitry,. so far I have three rabbits, one doe(male) and two bucks (females). I wish to be advised on how I can expound more and grow as a rabbit farmer.

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me • 03 years ago

hello there

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me • 03 years ago

hello there

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me • 03 years ago

hello there

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