Rabbit farming a promising sector: Govt

The association has forged strategic alliances with rabbit farming associations across Africa, fostering a collaborative ecosystem conducive to knowledge exchange and mutual growth.

THE government says rabbit farming has emerged as a promising sector within Zimbabwe’s agricultural landscape, offering opportunities for economic empowerment, food security and rural development.

Officiating at the launch of the Zimbabwe Commercial Rabbit Breeders Association (Zicorba) National Rabbit Farmers Training Programme in Harare on Monday, Agriculture deputy minister Davis Marapira said rabbit farming has the potential to play a significant role in the growth of the country’s agriculture sector.

“The development of a well-defined, well-resourced rabbit value chain with requisite skills is essential for maximising the benefits of rabbit farming and the creation of a sustainable industry that can contribute to food security, economic growth, and rural development,” he said.

“At the core of the rabbit value chain are the rabbit farmers who raise and breed rabbits for meat, fur, and other products.”

By supporting and empowering these farmers through training, access to quality breeding stock, veterinary services, and market linkages, the deputy minister said, the rabbit value chain can be strengthened right from the grassroots level.

The training programme was sponsored by the Chinese embassy in Zimbabwe,

“The support from our Chinese partners is invaluable, especially considering China's status as the largest consumer of rabbit meat globally. China consumes a staggering 1 million tonnes of rabbit meat annually, with 600 000 tonnes produced domestically and 400 000 tonnes imported,” Marapira said.

“This presents a remarkable opportunity for Zimbabwe to tap into this US$7 billion industry by exporting rabbit meat to China. I am pleased to announce that Zimbabwe now boasts one of the largest rabbit abattoirs in Africa, a development that aligns perfectly with Zicorba's strategy of exporting rabbit meat.”

He said local consumption of rabbit meat has been on the rise. The local industry has the potential to generate approximately US$2,5 million in earnings annually.

Economic and commercial counsellor at the Chinese Embassy, Huang Minghai, said the Asian giant was committed to expanding imports of agricultural products from Zimbabwe.

“China is Zimbabwe's largest importer of agro-products. In 2023, China imported agro-products from Zimbabwe reached US$682 million, accounting for 40% of China's total imports from Zimbabwe,” Huang said.

“Zimbabwean tobacco is well-known in China, and China was the biggest buyer of Zimbabwean tobacco with half of Zimbabwe’s tobacco production exported to China.

“China also imports macadamia nuts and fresh citrus from Zimbabwe, and is negotiating an agreement for the importation of avocados and blueberries from Zimbabwe. China is also the largest consumer of rabbit meat globally; we can also explore the possibility of importing rabbit meat from Zimbabwe in the future.”

He said China was committed to strengthening agricultural investment and cooperation with Zimbabwe, with several Chinese companies having entered the agricultural sector in Zimbabwe.

Zicorba president Regis Nyamakanga said their primary goal was to facilitate the transition into the cash economy and uplift the livelihoods of 1,5 million households in Zimbabwe through rabbit farming.

He said under the umbrella of Zicorba, significant progress has been made towards achieving this objective.

“Notably, we successfully secured investment for the establishment of the country's first rabbit abattoir in May 2021, which has since become one of the largest on the African continent,” he said.

“This strategic initiative ensures the hygienic processing of rabbit meat, enhancing the quality and safety standards of our produce. Furthermore, our comprehensive pure breed rollout programme has significantly boosted rabbit production nationwide, positioning Zimbabwe as a leading rabbit-producing nation in Africa.”

He said they have partnered private investors to launch a chain of eateries known as rabbit grills. Two establishments are operational, accompanied by a rabbit meat distribution centre aimed at expanding the consumption of rabbit meat — recognised as one of the healthiest sources of white meat globally.

The association has forged strategic alliances with rabbit farming associations across Africa, fostering a collaborative ecosystem conducive to knowledge exchange and mutual growth.

“The future of rabbit farming in Zimbabwe is promising, and we are immensely grateful to the Chinese government for sponsoring our training program,” Nyamakanga said.

Zicorba was established in July 2020 and has emerged as one of the most dynamic and successful farming associations in Zimbabwe, with chapters established across the country’s 10  provinces.

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