Yes, there is a market for rabbit meat, but...
Lucy Njeri has been asked by her doctor to eat white meat only, particularly rabbit. Following that direction, she jumped onto the net to find out where she can get a constant supply and that is how she landed on my contact. Every Monday, I supply her with several kilos of rabbit meat.
Lucy is among hundreds of health-consious clients who call our offices daily to make orders for rabbit meat. These clients have formed a crucial market for us that never existed before.
That is why when I hear someone saying rabbit business has no place in the market, I quickly dismiss them.
There are always new customers looking for us online. We also have peculiar callers from other countries in Africa and beyond who contact our company for supply of the Canada Giant Rabbit Breed to them.
We have had inquiries as far as Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Ghana, Botswana, Dubai, India and Italy.
The above narratives demonstrate that although there is potential market for rabbit meat products in Kenya and beyond, certain challenges still abound.
Save for medical reasons, rabbit meat should be a delicacy on our menu occasionally. While we promote consumption of rabbit meat at events and bus stages especially in Kiambu County, the market for rabbit meat in Kenya is unique.
First the price of rabbit meat is not friendly to many consumers. While a kilo of chicken, fish or beef is relatively low, the same weight of rabbit meat is like double the price. In this harsh economic times, a shopper with limited cash is left with no option but to go for the most affordable option.
Another challenge is that while there is widespread ignorance on the benefits of rabbit meat compared to the common red and white meat available. To most Kenyans, unless advised by a health practitioner to consume white meat, they rarely give it a ‘chance’. Therefore for rabbit unless it is a recommendation, it rarely ‘hits’ ones radar.
On the other hand, meat options like beef, fish and chicken are a delicacy for many.
But there is need for more people to embrace rabbit eating for health reasons.
Rabbit meat is low in cholesterol and high protein content. There are also misconceptions about costs involved to rear rabbits.
While starting the rabbit farm for commercial purposes involves relative huge investment, rearing rabbits for consumption calls for lower investment.
So what is the way forward?
First, all commercial rabbit farmers should be consumers of the meat to serve as an example to their family members, friends and relatives.
Veteran rabbit keepers like myself should also act as champions in convincing others to come on board.
They can start by explaining to the non-converts how preparation of the meat is as easy as ABC.
We have over 90 recipes of cooking rabbit meat and can readily share with those interested.
Rabbit meat can be prepared as mshikaki or roast and it can be mixed with raw vegetables like capsicum, tomatoes and carrots and grilled.
This is value addition, which fetches even more.
For the export market, the hurdles are more complicated and need State intervention.
The bottlenecks are logistical coupled with taxes which make the business tricky affair.
For Kenyan investors to export rabbit meat to European Union and American markets, for instance, they need to get approval from the Union and get letters of no objection from the receiving countries. This calls for time and extra investment in a slaughter house and other facilities.
If they can find an easy and legal way to navigate this safety checks, rabbit skins and finished leather market could turn into a lucrative market for Kenyan investors.
Export of the skins is also prohibitive due to high taxes for export of raw skins from Kenya.
These are the areas the Government should intervene to unlock this lucrative market.
[George Kibanya, Rabbit breeder, Alcare Kenya Limited, 0725893963, [email protected]]
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