Sikhulekelani Moyo, Business Reporter
THE Zimbabwe Commercial Rabbit Breeders Association (ZICORBA) is set to export 1.5 tonnes of rabbit meat per month to Botswana as the neighbouring country’s production chain cannot meet the growing demand.
The cuniculture industry lobby group was launched in July 2020 to revive an industry that had collapsed due to economic challenges of the past decade.
Due to increased production in Zimbabwe, Botswana’s Northern Rabbit Breeders Association (NORBA) has approached ZICORBA with a view of importing meat and breeding stock.
Nobra president Ms Timbu Iris Ntjenje recently told a series of workshops held for farmers in Botswana that although demand for rabbit meat is on the rise in that country, local production was still lagging.
It is in this context that NORBA has engaged ZICORBA to start importing rabbit meat from Zimbabwe.
“We have approached our friends in Zimbabwe to supply us with rabbit meat to meet local demand while we ramp up our production.
“NORBA is looking for about 1.5 tonnes of rabbit meat from Zimbabwe per month to start with.
We see our cooperation with ZICORBA expanding to other areas of common interest,” she said.
Rabbit breeders in Botswana also intend to import quality breeding stock from Zimbabwe.
In July last year, ZICORBA completed the construction of Zimbabwe’s first export approved rabbit abattoir in Harare to the tune of US$1 million.
The abattoir, which began operating in September last has a capacity to slaughter between 2.5 tonnes and 3.5 tonnes of rabbits in a single eight-hour shift.
While plans are in the pipeline to build a similar facility in Bulawayo, satellite rabbit slaughter-houses will also be developed across the country as part of measures to capacitate rabbit producers.
The association has been playing a significant role in efforts to commercialise rabbit production in Zimbabwe, which has seen active participation of women and youths.
An estimated 30 tonnes of rabbit meat is now being consumed on the local market.
The projected growth of the local cuniculture is also expected to be triggered by the envisaged uptake in consumption due to the health benefits of eating rabbit meat and the potential to export to countries such as China where demand is more than 400 000 tonnes per year.
The amount of rabbit meat consumed across the globe reached 1,5 million tonnes in 2018 after picking up nearly three percent while total consumption has registered exponential growth of a similar margin since 2007. — @SikhulekelaniM1