Zimbabwean women are set to be among the biggest beneficiaries of an ambitious scheme launched by rabbit breeders to fight poverty and improve livelihoods.
More than two decades of an economic embargo imposed by some Western countries have chocked the Zimbabwean economy, induced poverty and unleashed untold suffering among the majority of the country’s 15 million people.
Women and youths who form the majority of the country’s 1,8 million households, have over the years borne the brunt of the economic embargo.
The Zimbabwe Commercial Rabbit Breeders Association (ZICORBA) president Regis Nyamakanga, told The Herald Finance & Business yesterday that the organisation had launched an initiative to catapult women into the cash economy and improve their livelihoods.
“We are in the process of recruiting women to go into commercial rabbit production, which is a low hanging fruit in terms of turning our economy around.
“We will support them with high quality breeds, feed, hutches, medicines and technical assistance to ensure that their production is unencumbered and that they start earning money as soon as possible,” he said.
“Introducing rabbit rearing to women and helping those already in rabbit production with good breeds, is central to helping them to earn more from selling their produce and is a key way to fighting poverty at household and national level.
“Unlike in some sectors where women farmers are routinely paid less than their male counterparts, ZICORBA offers opportunities, support and equal representation of women in rabbit production.
“ZICORBA is inspired by the vital roles that women play in small – holder agriculture in meeting the food needs of their households in particular and the nation, in general,” he said.
Mr Nyamakanga said ZICORBA had 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 farm-gate price for rabbit meat is estimated at between $4 and $4,50 per kg.
In addition, 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.
Mr Nyamakanga said due to the fact that rabbits are fed on organic food, the meat lends itself to being organic food, making the benefits of eating rabbit meat even greater.
“ZICORBA also believes that rabbit production among the women and youths will generate income and create employment. This has a direct benefit to the country as it improves the country’s gross domestic product and improves livelihoods.”