Land shortage in Eastlands is not a hurdle to rabbit farming
Shortage of land or space to carry out farming activities, especially in urban areas like Nairobi, is a hindrance to many ambitious would-be farmers residing in such areas.
But to some, little space means a lot to them. In Lunga Lunga Estate in Industrial Area, Nairobi, a youth is busy utilising the little space he has to carry out rabbits keeping.
Lazaro Tumbuti, 32, ventured into rabbit keeping last year, with only four rabbits, but he currently has over 80, which he sells to the locals and other traders.
“I ventured into rabbit farming last year with four rabbits- a male and three females. I bought them from friends, but there is one that I brought from home,” reveals the farmer.
He says that he bought them when they were still young, for Sh500 each, spending a total of Sh2,000 to purchase the four animals.
Since he was a newbie in the industry, he left the animals locked in one cage, without separating them according to their gender. As a result, he was astonished one day to find out that the females had born young ones without his knowledge.
The farmer does not have any challenge getting animals feeds as he collects vegetable wastes from vegetable vendors for the animals.
“I had tried using commercial feeds, but they are very expensive. There are rabbit feeds that look like rice, which is sold at Sh500 for 10 kilos, and if you have many rabbits, it is costly,” says the farmer.
He uses the feeds for only one week and reveals he also experiences challenges in his rabbit keeping venture. Like during rainy and cold seasons, his rabbits fell sick.
“But when it is hot the diseases are not very common,” he adds.
Some of the ailments that he says affects his animals, include paralysis on the legs, wounds on the ears, and swollen eyes.
Tumbuti says that when such conditions occur, he takes one of the rabbits to a vet for him to diagnose for the farmer. He adds that sometimes he takes the vet to the place where he keeps the rabbits.
However, some of his rabbits have succumbed to the illness, reducing the number of animals.
“There is a time I was feeding them with feeds with too much moisture during the rainy season, and they died. Most of those that died were three weeks old kits,” he reveals.
Initially, his rabbits reproduced faster because he was keeping both the does and the bucks in the same cage, but he has now learnt how to control the reproduction by separating the females and the males.
“When they are born, I wait for one month before separating the males and females,” adds Tumbuti.
The farmer sells one and a half months old rabbits at Sh500 each. He also sells a mature rabbit at Sh800. However, he sells rabbit meat at Sh650 per kilo. But he has to pay with Sh200 to a casual labourer who slaughters the rabbits for his clients.
He reveals that a rabbit can gain weight of up to 3kgs. This means if he sells a slaughtered one, he can earn around Sh1,750 after paying the person who slaughters them. Nevertheless, getting customers who buy rabbit meat is quite an uphill task for him. This has compelled him to resort to online marketing.
The farmer, who has begun rearing kienyeji chickens to increase his income, says that he pays Sh3,000 every month, to the owner of the plot that he is using. He says that there is a secondary school in the area known as Star of Hope, which takes its students to the farm to learn more about rabbit farming. However, he does not charge them.
“They also take manure and rabbit urine which they use in farming at the school. They also buy rabbits that they slaughter and use in learning,” he notes.
The farmer, who also intends to venture into greenhouse farming, urges youth to venture into farming, however small the land is, instead of waiting for white-collar jobs to knock on the doors.