Zimbabwe rabbit farmers have imported 100 more pure breeds to help shore-up efforts by the country’s rabbit producers to bolster and expand cuniculture production.
Rabbit production, which is fast gaining ground in Zimbabwe, has significant potential to generate foreign currency earnings for the country. Potential export markets for rabbits include China and the US.
Judy Stuart, an internationally recognised rabbit breeder, told The Herald and Finance and Business that she was working with the Zimbabwe Commercial Rabbit Breeders Association (ZICORBA) to improve rabbit breeds in Zimbabwe.
ZICORBA has already secured a niche for rabbit meat on the local market where demand is expected to soar to more than 25 tonnes per month worth more than US $1 million.
The farmgate price for rabbit meat is estimated at between $4 and $4,50 per kilogramme.
“I am excited to be working with ZICORBA in their quest to build a vibrant rabbit farming industry in Zimbabwe.
“There is scope for rabbit farmers in South Africa and Zimbabwe to work together for the good of our industry,” Mrs Stuart said.
In November 2020 Mrs Stuart exported 160 pure breeds to ZICORBA members and on April 19, 2021, she dispatched an additional 100 pure breeds to ZICORBA,bringing to 260 the total exports of pure breeds to Zimbabwe in the last five months.
The breeds were made up of Chinchilla Giganta, NewZealand Whites and Reds, American Sable Cinnamon and Californian.
“This is our single largest export in more than four decades and we look to continue cooperating with our Zimbabwean partners as the cuniculture industry continues to grow in leaps and bounds,” Mrs Stuart said.
Paidamoyo Nyamakanga, executive director of Raymeg Consultants Group, whose firm imported the rabbits, thanked the Government for granting her company an import permit for the rabbits, saying this laid a strong foundation for the country’s rabbit industry.
Regis Nyamakanga, the president of ZICORBA said his organisation’s agenda was to improve livelihoods of 1,8 million households in Zimbabwe through rabbit production.
Rabbit production is now practiced across the whole of Zimbabwe. The Zimbabwe Commercial Rabbit Breeders Association (ZICORBA) has structures and full time staff in all the country’s 10 provinces.
Notably, Zimbabwe’s export approved rabbit abattoir with a capacity to handle one tonne of rabbit meat per day is currently under construction in Harare, and is due to be completed at the end of April 2021.
Egypt, Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana and Zimbabwe are among some of the top producers of rabbit meat in Africa.
The global rabbit meat market revenue amounted to US$6,4 billion in 2017, picking up by 12 percent against the previous year while meat consumption peaked in 2017, and is expected to retain its growth in the immediate term.
The amount of rabbit or hare meat consumed worldwide totalled 1,5 million tonnes in 2017, picking up by 2,9 percent against the previous year.
The total consumption volume increased to an average annual rate of plus 2,8 percent from 2007 to 2017. The country with the largest volume of rabbit meat consumption was China at 925 000 tonnes or about 62 percent of the total consumption.