Rabbit farming is one of the most promising business ventures in the country but many are too afraid to test the waters
By Alex Muriithi
It is neither taught in school nor is it one of those careers that parents encourage their children to pursue. The sweat and horrid smell that come from it is not pleasant at all. Some of you might cringe from just thinking about it, but there is no denying; the money earned is pretty good. Some of you might be wondering what that is. Rabbit farming is what I’m talking about. It is not one of those white collar jobs, but I promise you it is worth all the energy and monetary input.
In the outskirts of Thika, a group of farmers saw a niche in rabbit farming and teamed up to form Thika Gatundu Association Welfare Group.In the year 2010, the association was registered under the Societies Act to accommodate members from across the country. It rebranded to The Rabbit Breeders Association of Kenya (RABAK). RABAK is a nonprofit welfare group.
You don’t need to own a big piece of land to be able to rear rabbits because they are relatively small animals and are low maintenance. RBAK farmers slaughter rabbits once in a week, every Wednesday. They get their rabbits from members of the association across the country and on average, they slaughter 100 rabbits on a single Wednesday every week. Farmers pocket Kshs.450 per kilogram of meat and RABAK sells the meat at Kshs. 500, making a profit of Kshs. 50. They use this money for the maintenance of the slaughter house.
The association sells its products to various people who come and collect meat from its premises or supplies directly to the market. For supermarkets like Naivas and Uchumi, the association distributes the meat through agents. It has created many employment opportunities for citizens.
RABAK believes that for every challenge encountered there is an opportunity in waiting. Initially, many consumers were not well informed about the massive benefits of rabbit meat. The founders had to do a lot of persuasion to the consumers who were a bit apprehensive about the meat and they seldom bought it. The campaign paid off handsomely and the current demand is very high. The association can hardly meet it.
The Chairman RABAK says: “Rabbit meat has become a delicacy that most consumers are dying to try. We nurture the growth of our rabbits organically, thus attracting not only the locals, but also the foreigners. Foreigners place huge orders and we seldom have enough to sell to our locals.”
RABAK however lacks adequate resources to facilitate its day to day activities.This makes it hard for the association to organize how to collect the rabbits from the farmers and it has negatively impacted on the production of rabbit meat. Often, small scale farmers have the challenge of meeting the transportation cost. However, the association is working towards luring donors and extra finances so that it can organize the transportation for the rabbits, or have slaughter houses in various areas, hence lessening the burden of transportation.
RABAK is a champion of healthy and happy dieting. Rabbit meat is digested easily in the system and has light protein. It is suitable for people with lifestyle illnesses like diabetes. Kenyans should venture into this business because of its massive benefits. One can even keep as little as 5 rabbits in his or her backyard just to test the waters.
Future Plans for the Organization
The association has requested the government for aid in order to acquire a refrigerated vehicle which can get meat from all corners of the country.It is also negotiating a deal with the Kenya Leather Development Council so that it can engage in value addition for the rabbit’s skin. The association is looking forward to the day when rabbit consumption will grow and surpass poultry consumption. Despite the fact that customers are placing huge orders for rabbit meat, the supply is still low. This untapped market provides many opportunities for entrepreneurs to venture into the business.