Rabbit production has changed from subsistence production to commercial production over the years in Nigeria. Rearing of rabbit is much easier than rearing other animals, reason is obvious because one does not need a large portion of land or large range of infrastructure to embark on rabbit production.
Rabbit are of different breeds and almost all the breeds are produced in Nigeria commercially. Rabbit are reared for quite a number of purposes such as meat, breeding stock, laboratory use among other uses.
1. Rearing for Meat
When producing rabbits for meat, one should ensure that the necessary facilities are in place, starting from the slaughtering process up to when you will be looking for prospective buyers, example, meat stores and restaurants.
2. For Laboratory Use
One of the money spinning aspect of rabbit production is to be used in the laboratory and hospitals. However, some farmers in Nigeria are facing the challenge of producing rabbit for laboratory purposes, because, to enter the market, one has to be licensed to produce rabbit for laboratory and hospital, even for the tertiary institution.
The different with other aspect of production purpose is that, rabbit production for laboratories is monitored, and should be produced under hygienic condition.
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3. For Breeding Stock
If someone prefer to go into rabbit production for breeding stock, then he has to breed high quality of rabbit, the rabbit should be healthy because they can either go for advertising journal or exhibition show.
Prospects of Rabbit Production in Nigeria:
1. Food Sufficiency
In meeting with the ever-increasing demand for food sufficiency in Nigeria, people have to devise different means of attaining to this demand, and one of the alternatives has been the production of rabbit, which has been reputed to be one of the major sources of food for human consumption in Nigeria, as the opportunity abound, production of rabbit at commercial scale will bring about the availability of both food and jobs opportunity and income generation in the system.
2. Essential Body Nutrients
Rabbit meat is highly nutritious, according to nutritionist. Nutrients found in rabbit meat are vitamins and energy, and calcium and protein, etc. and little or no other animals have this amount of nutrients that are good for the body.
Low amount of fat and sodium and cholesterol are found in rabbit meat, unlike other animals, and there is no traditional restriction on who should eat and who should not eat rabbit meat.
3. Unemployment Reduction
Many have engaged into rabbit production because of less requirement in starting up rabbit production farming, therefore rabbit production has, apart from ensuring the availability of food, has also been a source of income generation for rabbit production farmers in Nigeria hence, the rate of unemployment has been reduced .
So rabbit production can be a great source food production and employment opportunity generation.
Problems of Rabbit Production in Nigeria:
1. Lack of Adequate Information
Rabbit production farmers are faced with the problems of inadequate information on the ‘know how’ in rabbit production.
One of the major challenges in rabbit production has been the limited access to technical knowledge in rabbit production and evident of this challenge is apparent. For example, in the rabbit hutches, the frame work and the construction of the hutches are poor.
2. Lack of Access to Specified Breeding Stock
One of the problems faced by rabbit production farmer has been the case of picking or buying their breeding stock anywhere other than from the recognized and licensed breeding stock centers.
Buying of replacement stock among rabbit production farmers has somehow brought about inbreeding in rabbit production.
3. Disease Outbreak and Lack of Adequate Feeding
One of the major challenges of rabbit production in Nigeria has been the issue of outbreak of diseases and death of rabbits.
Contending with the outbreak of diseases has been a major challenge, as inadequate feeding of rabbits is caused by unavailability of feed for the animals.
4. Lack of Access to Modern Technology
There are some challenges militating against increase in rabbit production in Nigeria, another aspect of this challenges is the problem of increasing productivity through the application of modern technology in the production and marketing strategies. This problem, in the most part, has helped to hinder growth in rabbit production business.
Conclusion and Suggestion
Rabbit production in Nigeria has contributed immensely to food sufficiency, and as well, create jobs opportunities, therefore, rabbit production farmers need to be encouraged.
One of the methods of encouraging Nigerians into rabbit production business is by sensitizing them on the need, important and benefit of engaging in rabbit production.
The relevant authorities should help in laying strong foundation for rabbit production farming in Nigeria. There should be programmes by the government such that will stimulates Nigerians interest in rabbit production, as well as support them through services, such as rabbit production expansion service across the nation.
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More so, since farming procedures are dynamic, in due of the new technique of production, there is need for the provision of the necessary modern technology in the production of rabbit in the country.
The availability of such modern facilities will make rabbit production attractive, and will encourage commercial production of rabbit among Nigerians’ farmers.
Information and the’ know-how’ in the production of rabbit is crucial, therefore, there is need also for adequate production of information to rabbit producers, as well as suitable materials that will help in the production of rabbit.
Production and marketing strategies are also important to rabbit production farmers. Breeding centers should be established across the country to ensure that rabbit producers do not buy their breeding stock elsewhere; this will help curb the problem of rabbit diseases that is apparent.
More important is the funding of the industry. Funds should be made available from relevant institutions to support rabbit production in Nigeria.
As farmers expand their businesses, productivity will increase, and market will expand too, and this will necessitate the aspect of making market issue a priority.
Standardization in the production of rabbit is also of greater important. Farmers should be supported with technical advice on how best to go about rabbit production in a way that will meet the acceptable standard.
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