More rabbit meat could be heading for Barbadians tables, as farmers move to scale up production, starting with the launch of the country’s first rabbit farmer’s collective.
The association, which is being spearheaded by the Barbados Agricultural Society (BAS), will see farmers organised to move from small backyard projects, to scales where they consistently supply the local market, according to head of the BAS, James Paul.
While supermarkets have always been willing to carry local rabbit meat in their frozen meat section, he said, the problem has always been the consistency of supply.
“One of the things that we have always found in the supply of this commodity, is that of consistency. Many farmers simply cannot maintain consistency to keep up with the demand of the product.
‘”What we intend to do is to group as many farmers in the association as possible in order to leverage the production among those farmers.”
In the model that the BAS is proposing, producers will approach the market as a collective, thereby ensuring that the supply is continuous, he explained.
Paul said: “We want to have a scenario where if there happens to be an issue on a farm and that farmer is unable to meet the demand, the shortfall can easily be picked up by another farm.
“So, what we are proposing has tremendous benefits because we have noticed that many young people have shown an interest in producing rabbits.”
He argued that while rabbit farming may not get to the stage of the vibrant local pork and poultry industries, its potential as a major income earner cannot continue to go untapped.
“Right now, the market for rabbits is not anything in comparison to poultry or pig farming because it is not one of the meats that is consumed in large quantities in Barbados.
“But certainly, there is the question of market development and this is contingent upon maintaining adequate quantities of the product.
“I believe there is significant earning potential in this sector and this is why we are trying to ensure that the right structures are in place,” he said.
Paul declared that in the current climate where employment is hard to find, no stone must be left unturned.
Apart from the marketing advantage that the BAS head is expecting, the producers’ association, which is to be launched on Saturday, is to be a hub of information for anyone seeking to get into the business.
He contends that this component will come in especially handy, not only for those seeking to make a career out of rabbit farming, but also as a reference point for basic statistical information on the industry.
He pointed out, “The association would be trying to foster good rabbit rearing techniques among farmers.
“So, for instance, efficiencies in production and good health farm practices are among the areas that we want the farmers to develop and share through the association.
“This way the industry can expand quickly and more persons can benefit.”