RABBIT FARMING AS A veritable TOOL FOR ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT
RABBIT FARMING AS A VERITABLE TOOL FOR ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT
Globally, there is a problem with food supply and security, which has led to a search for alternative production methods by individuals, governments, and other stakeholders. The poor are particularly vulnerable to both famine and food insecurity in the developing countries.
In order to determine, among other things, the profitability of rabbit farming, the level of acceptability of rabbit meat, as well as the obstacles preventing rabbit farming in the study area
the study examined rabbit farming as being a genuine tool for profitability and employment in Akwa Ibom state, Nigeria.
The study focused on the sample population's demographic makeup, as well as their attitudes towards raising rabbits, income levels, and the benefits and products that draw farmers into rabbit farming.
In Nigeria's Akwa Ibom State, the rabbit farmers in Itu L.G.A. were the target demographic. In this study, 78 rabbit farmers were sampled. Structured questionnaires and observations were used to gather data.
84.6% of respondents responded. Data was edited and cleaned in the Excel software programme, and descriptive statistics were calculated using SPSS, a statistical package for the social sciences.
Contrary to predictions, it was discovered that 72.5% of adults raised rabbits, with 39.4% of rabbit farmers owning 10 to 20 bunnies, and that attitudes towards raising rabbits had become less negative over time.
It was determined that the primary reasons why rabbit farming and keeping flourished were because they provided white flesh for food, cash, and manure. 78% of the farmers gave their consent. It was advised that potential keepers be informed about the benefits and items related to rabbits.
According to the report, rabbit farming is a profitable endeavour that should be promoted among farmers in rural areas and even among farmers who use machinery.
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Nigeria is the continent's biggest importer of frozen fish, according to Onebunne (2013), and needs over 1.5 million tonnes of fish and meat each year to keep up with demand.
Over 30% of the demand is currently being met by indigenous production, which includes major imports worth over N20 billion annually. (2013) Onebunne.
While it is continuing to rise quickly in developing nations like Nigeria, human population growth in industrialised nations is stabilising (Carl Haub, 2012).
Animal protein consumption in Nigeria is still low, averaging between 6.0 and 8.4 grammes per person per day, far less than the recommended 13.5 grammes per person per day (Egbunike, 1997). Thus, the need for more protein sources to fill this gap and address the population issue.
Economic indicators show that, rather than importing food into these countries, local farming and production need to be boosted as long as this population trend persists.
According to Owen et al. (2008), there are potential approaches that should be investigated and assessed in order to maximise food production and satisfy Nigeria's protein needs.
Use of livestock species that have not yet assumed a significant role in animal production in these nations is one of these choices. In poor nations, small-holder subsistence-type integrated farming may benefit from a number of characteristics that rabbits have (Mailafia et al. 2010).
According to a preliminary market analysis by the International Finance Corporation (IFC), Nigeria's current production of animal protein could easily increase by 25,000 tonnes, or 100% (Onebunne, 2013).
However, cattle, which could have been another significant source of protein, are being depleted by desert expansion, pest attacks, and other factors.
Thus, the production of mini-livestock including grasscutter, guinea pig, porcupine, snail, and rabbit is highlighted as the best choice for food security in the nation as of right now.
Numerous difficulties with rabbit farming in Nigeria have led to a severe lack of meat needed to address the country's population problem (Nworgu, 2007).
Due to the high cost of agricultural inputs, poor funding for agriculture, inadequate functional infrastructure facilities, inconsistent government agricultural policies, insufficient private sector participation,
poor mechanised farming, and little to no adoption of some simple agricultural technologies developed by scientists, the growth rate of Nigeria's agricultural sector is below the potentials of its natural and human resources (Nworgu, 2007).
Niamir-Fuller (1994) and Onifade et al. (1999) made the observation that women often assume full responsibility for animals kept near to the homestead, which are typically kept for household consumption. Examples of these animals include poultry, calves, rabbits, and other small livestock, as well as sick animals.
Although there are exceptions, such as among the Touareg in Algeria, Mali, and Niger, and occasionally among women in The Sudan,
women rarely assume substantial herding and management responsibilities for large stock. In Somalia, men tend to the camels while women manage the flocks of sheep, goats, and cattle.
One might have expected rabbit meat production to be on par with chicken and pig production, based on health speeches, seminars, and education efforts on the meat's nutritional and health benefits, but this is not the case. There is little information available about the difficulties and future of rabbit farming in Nigeria.
Few sources of knowledge are able to explain the key complexities involved in raising rabbits (Mailafia et al. 2010). This opinion was supported by Abu, et al. (2008) in their analysis of Nigerian research on rabbits as an animal protein source.
Only six (3%) of the 153 postgraduate theses from the department of animal science at the University of Ibadan in Nigeria that were collected and analysed, spanning the years 1969 to 2006, used rabbits as research subjects.
Two of the theses were on nutrition, two were about processing and consumer acceptance of rabbits, and the final two were about reproductive physiology.
Production of rabbits has a tremendous potential for achieving food security in terms of supplying high-quality animal protein consumption, generating revenue for small-holder farmers, and lowering the country's high unemployment rate.
Given that rabbit usage and production are obviously much lower than those of other livestock and poultry, the goal of this study is to examine the socioeconomic traits of rabbit farmers, the marketability of rabbit meat, the production barriers, and the costs and returns associated with raising rabbits.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Peasant farmers in Nigeria rear rabbits on a small scale for a variety of purposes, and they can be a valuable part of a modest, sustainable family business. While meat is the most common use of rabbit in agriculture, it is also farmed for its pelts, manure, show value, and laboratory use.
Compared to most meat consumed in the US, rabbit meat is high in protein and low in fat, calories, and cholesterol. In well run rabbitries, rabbits will breed all year long and are prolific breeders. Up to 23 kits can be kindled (given birth) by a doe at once. Eight puppies make up the typical litter.
Every year, rabbits typically have four to five litters. It is possible to kindle rabbits more intensely with good control. A rabbit weighing four to five pounds is ready for the market. With the right care and food, it normally takes eight weeks to attain this weight.
In terms of the quantity of feed consumed per pound of gain in body weight, rabbits have an effective feed conversion ratio. A doe can have up to ten times as many offspring as it weighs each year.
One of the healthiest meats available is rabbit. It contains the most protein, the least fat and cholesterol, the fewest calories per pound, and only 8% bone.
The care of a pet or house rabbit is very different from rabbit farming for meat production. A rabbit manufacturing system's fundamental components should be carefully considered. Key aspects of labour, facilities, and lifestyle should be taken into account as with any livestock enterprise. Making the essential background check at the beginning will prevent errors later. Sanitation and health, nutrition, reproduction, and breeding are some of the other major issues with rabbit farming.
However, the enterprise's uptake and adoption rates have remained low since the Impact Assessment Report (2006) on NALEP, which had identified rabbit production as a way to address food security as an animal protein source and a source of income for small-scale and poor farmers in both urban and rural areas.
Following these intentional efforts to grow the rabbit population and adoption rates that are still low and slow, it is necessary to reiterate the significance of rabbit farming while also addressing how much of a genuine tool it is in providing farmers with economic empowerment.
1.3 OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY
general OBJECTIVES To investigate rabbit farming as a real tool for farmers in Nigeria's Itu L.G.A. to become more economically independent.
To assess the extent to which farmers in the study area are engaged in raising rabbits.
To investigate the elements influencing rabbit farming in the research region.
To investigate the socioeconomic traits of the study area's rabbit farmers.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS .
Do rabbit farmers in the study area become more economically independent as a result of their work?
What extent do farmers participate in raising rabbits in the research area?
What aspects of rabbit farming in the study area are influencing?
What are the socioeconomic traits of the study area's rabbit farmers?
1.5 RELATIONSHIP TO OTHER STUDIES
Finding and comprehending the main causes and/or influences of the rabbit farming issue, as well as developing solutions that inspire farmers to invest in the industry.
For policy implications and solutions, rigorous empirical research on the profitability of rabbit farming has received significant attention.
In order to give policy-related information that aids in prioritising among the various options based on the relative level of influences of its determinants, it is essential to characterise and diagnose the current farming systems.
This study will also give farmers and potential farmers a foundation for understanding rabbit farming and the venture's profit margin.
More specifically, the findings of the study assist relevant entities in developing intervention procedures and policies that are suited to the unique requirements of the studied area. The study will ultimately support initiatives for additional research, extension, and development.
1.6 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The study, with a sample size of 78 farmers, was conducted in Itu L.G.A., Akwa Ibom state, with a focus on farmers who raise rabbits. The study looked at farming's profitability, contributing factors, level of involvement, and farmer traits.
1.7 DEFINITION OF TERMS
Empowerment in the economic sphere refers to the capacity to decide how to manage and distribute financial resources.
Products made from rabbits are what one can obtain from raising them, and the farmer profits from this. In the case of raising rabbits, they consist of food (white meat), manure, revenue through sales of goods or rabbits, and skin and fur.
Rabbit productivity is the volume of various items produced from rabbits; when excellent husbandry practises are used, productivity increases and advantages are increased. Poor rabbit husbandry results in poor or low production, which has low benefits.
Total farm revenue is the money a farmer makes from the farming work he does on his property.
A livestock officer is a member of the Ministry of Livestock Development who is tasked with distributing information on livestock enterprises, including those using rabbits.