Raymeg Holdings Limited, a corporate member of Zimbabwe Commercial Rabbit Breeders Association (ZICORBA), this month started distributing pure rabbit breeds to ZICORBA members as efforts to improve the country’s rabbit genetic stock gather pace.

The launch of the programme, expected to distribute about 2 000 pure breeds over 12 months, coincided with the first anniversary of ZICORBA, which is the only collective voice of rabbit farmers in Zimbabwe.

ZICORBA was launched in July 2021.

To date, ZICORBA members in Masvingo, Mashonaland East and Midlands have received the pure breeds.  The breeds were imported from South Africa recently under a Government approved and supervised programme.

Commercial rabbit production, which is fast gaining ground in Zimbabwe, has significant potential to generate foreign currency earnings for the country. Potential export markets for rabbits include China and the US.

ZICORBA has also secured a niche for rabbit meat on the local market where demand is expected to soar to more than 25 tonnes per month valued at US$1 million.

Raymeg executive director, Mrs Paidamoyo Nyamakanga said recently that the distribution of the pure breeds would continue in Bulawayo and Matabeleland provinces.

“The programme is aimed at broadening the participation of rabbit farming amongst our people, to improve livelihoods, create employment and to contribute to the country’s gross domestic product”.

ZiCORBA vice president, Mr Orbert Nyakabau, thanked Raymeg for supporting the association’s agenda to improve the country’s rabbit breeding genetic pool.

The Zimbabwe Commercial Rabbit Breeders Association (ZICORBA) marked its first anniversary this month with a number of achievements under its belt, making it one of the most successful and vibrant farming groups in the country since Independence in 1980.

In just 12 months, ZICORBA has struck strategic partnerships with a number of other rabbit farmers associations in Africa, including Botswana, Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa and Uganda.

ZICORBA has, in its first year of existence, wooed local businessmen to invest in what was previously a neglected sub-sector. This has turned rabbit farming into one of the most coveted and burgeoning enterprises in Zimbabwe.

At the behest of ZICORBA, private investor Raymeg Holdings invested in Zimbabwe’s first export certified rabbit abattoir, which is one of the biggest in Africa.

The abattoir has a capacity to process 2,5 tonnes of rabbit meat per day.  And plans are afoot to set up rabbit pellet-making and rabbit skin processing plants in Harare.

ZICORBA’s first president Regis Nyamakanga said when launching the organisation last year, they were fully aware of the huge effort it would take to grow the rabbit industry in Zimbabwe, especially following the outbreak of Covid-19.

“When we launched ZICORBA, we were under no illusion that it was going to be a ‘walk-in-the-park’.  We knew that we had to contend with the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Memories were still fresh in peoples’ minds about the collapse of a rabbit association that had been formed in Zimbabwe a few years back. We also knew that the prevailing economic challenges in Zimbabwe would militate against our efforts at starting something new.  But we were determined to forge ahead.

“Against this background, we took a deliberate position to craft a strategy of  breathing life back into the rabbit farming sub-sector. The strategy is anchored on three key pillars — Production, Processing and Marketing.

“We developed a detailed action plan that we have been implementing with sufficient gusto,” the ZICORBA chief said.

“To date, we have established ZICORBA Chapters in each of the country’s 10 provinces. Each ZICORBA Chapter has a seven-member executive lead by a Chapter president.  At the national level, we have a national Executive led by the national president.

“The national and provincial leadership were elected at the Association’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) and in terms of our constitution, which was developed and approved by paid-up members of ZICORBA,” he said.

ZICORBA employs 14 full-time staff, including the national coordinator; 10 provincial coordinators and youth ambassadors, a communication officer, a website master and a training coordinator.

“Although our members pay joining fees and monthly subscriptions, we took a deliberate position, which was endorsed at the Association’s AGM, that this money would not be used for the next two years.

“We convinced our corporate members, Raymeg Holdings Private Limited (Raymeg) and Midesha Private Limited (Midesha) to fund the Association’s activities for 24 months,” Mr Nyamakanga said.

The ZICORBA leadership negotiated with stock feed companies namely Agrifoods, National Foods and Capital Foods for discounts on rabbit pellets for the benefit of its members. This helped in lowering the cost of production.

Source: herald.co.zw