Small Animals - Big Profits
In rural Malawi, rabbit production has always been associated with little or no profit by many small scale farmers. This determination was made based on the size of the animal - more specifically, the thinking was that a small animal would produce small profits.
But 36-year-old Agnes Kamphirimende from Kambalani village in Traditional Authority Kabudula in Lilongwe District knows otherwise.
The mother of six was a secondary beneficiary from CPAR's previous Moving Beyond Hunger (MBH) program who received rabbits through the pay it forward' initiative. The primary beneficiary was Margaret Malikesi from the same village. As part of the MBH initiative, Margaret passed along her knowledge and experience in rabbit rearing to Agnes and the result was extremely encouraging.
As part of the program, Agnes spent weeks observing techniques on rabbit rearing and construction for rabbit kraals, hoping that this knowledge would improve her quality of life.
Initially she was provided with three rabbits, two females and one male. Today Agness is a proud owner of 30 rabbits. Agnes learned that with good management, rabbits can be very profitable because they have short reproductive cycles, high prolificacy and efficient feed conversion rates.
Agnes also learned that rabbit production could greatly improve her household's nutritional intake.
"Since I began rearing rabbits at my house a lot of things have improved. Rabbit production has greatly improved the protein intake at my household level. Rabbits provide me with excellent meat. If I slaughter one rabbit it gives me enough meat for a day's meal for my entire family. Everybody in my family enjoys rabbit meat particularly my children since the meat is so soft," she says.
Over time, Agnes began to realize the wide diversity of benefits that rabbit production could have for herself and her family.
"Rabbit production has helped me a lot to increase my income at my house. Since rabbits multiply so fast, I am able to sell an average of four rabbits in a week with each rabbit fetching around $3. This has helped me to supplement the income earned by my husband," says Agnes.
"The other advantage of raring rabbits is the production of manure. Rabbits provide me with high quality manure which I use for growing vegetables. Vegetables provide me and my family with another good source of income as well as vitamins.
I would like to encourage my fellow women to try rabbit production they will definitely not regret it. Rabbits are small animals yes, but they can provide a big profit!" she concludes.