KIHEFO promotes local initiated solutions to fight disease, ignorance and poverty in southwestern Uganda
Over the past two years, KIHEFO has been experimenting with breeding rabbits. KIHEFO works closely with small farmers living in the Kigezi region of southwestern Uganda, who are raising rabbits for household consumption and sale at local markets.
Why rabbits? Through the pilot-initiatives and experiences of small-farmers, KIHEFO has learned several important things about rabbits, which makes them an ideal meat-source for poor families to raise, including that:
1) Rabbits reproduce very quickly – every 30 days, in fact. A breeding female that gives birth to a litter of 5-7 babies can be bred, again, only five days later. An initial stock of 3 rabbits (2 does, 1 male) can grow to 40 rabbits in three month’s time.
2) Rabbits are very inexpensive to raise – a small-farmer needs to only gather local weeds and grasses that are growing in close proximity to the house, or feed them dried kitchen scraps. No expensive inputs necessary.
3) Rabbits are relatively disease-resistant – especially compared to poultry, which easily contract diseases, rabbits – when kept in raised cages that are cleaned daily – carry less risks than other small-livestock.
4) Rabbits can be eaten immediately by households – which is important in consideration of the high numbers of protein deficiency (sometimes leading to malnutrition) amongst children under five in the Kigezi region.
5) Rabbits can be sold on the market for approximately 15,000 Ugandan Shillings (equivalent of $6 US Dollars) – which helps generate small income for poor households.
See “Julius’s Story” for more information on KIHEFO’s findings on raising rabbits.
What’s the Next Steps for KIHEFO’s Rabbit Project?
Small-farmers have shared with KIHEFO that one of the most difficult aspects of selling rabbits is the lack of local markets. KIHEFO has responded by partnering with the Kigezi Private Sector Promotion (a local non-profit organization) to seek local community support to construct a ‘Rabbit Breeding & Training Centre’ in Kabale town-center.
A small group of local entrepreneurs have recently donated land, located just off the Katuna Highway, where KIHEFO and the Private Sector are pulling together resources to construct the region’s first-ever Kigezi Rabbit Breeding & Training Center. The facilities will include two buildings for breeding rabbits, a training center, administration offices, and residential living space for workers who will be employed to care for the rabbits, and maintain the site.
The Rabbit Center will serve as a space for training additional small-farmers (and poor households) in raising rabbits. Through KIHEFO’s Agro-Innovation & Revolving Fund Project, these beneficiaries will receive support for capital start-up (purchasing cage materials and rabbits). Additionally, the Center will benefit rabbit farmers by guaranteeing a local market for purchasing rabbits – as the Center aspires to produce 1000 rabbits on a monthly basis. KIHEFO has already identified potential markets in Rwanda, Kenya, and of course – locally so the Kigezi region also benefits from this nutritious meat source.
The long-term goal for the Center is to attract local investors to building an on-site Processing Center, where live rabbits can be prepared into marketable products, including sausages, meatballs, and steaks. This would ensure small-farmers with a guaranteed market to help them generate more income, encourage families to purchase rabbit meat (as an economical and healthy choice) and strengthen local/regional food security.
The Rabbit Center is scheduled to be completed by September 2013.
To learn more about KIHEFO’s Agro-Innovation Projects, please click – here.