My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: Why Caribbean Producers Jamaica Limited is going into large-scale Rabbit Farming

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Why Caribbean Producers Jamaica Limited is going into large-scale Rabbit Farming

“We are engaged in internal assessment looking at whether it is a viable commercial product to have in our portfolio compared to pork, beef or Chicken. We have not actually established a presence or a market for it as yet, but it is something the market is now adjusting its taste profile and its willingness to explore as another type of protein. So, we are monitoring whether or not it will be viable over time, and whether there is any scope for innovative ways to prepare it and therefore make it even more attractive than just being rabbit meat”

CPJ's Chief Revenue Officer, Dr David Lowe commenting on CPJ's plan to go into Rabbit Meat production

Rabbit Meat seem to be set to make it appearance on the tables of Jamaicans, as soon as production goes up with more production from Farmers, thus driving ensuring supplies and driving prices go down.

That seems to be the reasoning behind the CPJ (Caribbean Producers Jamaica Limited), who are currently looking into the idea of selling Rabbit Meat as explained in the article “CPJ considers selling rabbit meat”, published Friday February 7, 2014 by Tameka Gordon, Staff Reporter, The Jamaica Gleaner.

A European Delicacy, it’s now got Jamaican tongues wagging as we seek other sources of meat. This as we’re now grappling with an Egg Shortage that’s still ongoing which I’ve concluded is cause by persons substituting Eggs for more expensive Meat in their diet as I’d concluded in my blog article entitled “Egg Shortage in Jamaica set to continue to March 2014 - Poor Agricultural Planning to blame as Cheap Meat shortages forcing many to become Ovo-Lacto Vegetarians”.

In fact, Meat on the island is now so expensive that Crocodiles and now Mongoose are on the menu for some Jamaicans unable to get low cost Chicken Back as noted in my blog article entitled “Jamaicans now Eating Sly Mongoose as Chicken Back shortage Gets closer to Christmas - Family and Community Gardens needed to Grow what we Eat and reduce Food Import Bill”.

Chicken Back, the traditional staple of the poor is now hovering in the same price ranges as regular Chicken. Thus this becomes the Perfect Storm for Farmers to pursue the production of other form of Red Meat at a low enough cost using modern Farming methods to satisfy the demand.

This is based on the words of St Thomas Farmer, Mr. Irvince Reynolds in the article “Hotels, supermarkets want high volumes of rabbit meat”, published Sunday January 19, 2014, by Tameka Gordon, Business Reporter, The Jamaica Gleaner.

The cost for his JA$375,000 Rabbit Farm located in Cedar Valley, St Thomas breaks down as thus:
1.     JA$225,000 for Construction including building Material
2.     JA$$150,000 to buy Rabbits
3.     JA$700/lb for Rabbit Meat Wholesale

Starting from a mere 2 Rabbits purchased in August 2012 at the Denbigh Agricultural Show, he's since produced just about 150 lb. But production appears to be ramping up, which may explain CPJ's interest in Rabbit farming, to quote Mr. Irvince Reynolds: “The ideal situation would be to sell to the hotels, supermarkets and restaurants but I have not really been able to get into that market. I have spoken to quite a few hotels and restaurants but nothing has come through as yet. I contacted a few hotels and supermarkets before I started and I was told that they are interested in the meat but they are asking for a minimum of 500 to 1,000 pounds, so I have been getting myself to a certain level so I would be able to provide that quantity”.

It takes 38 rabbits to produce 100 pounds of meat and their high Meat-to-bone density means that they are a lot more efficient in their conversion of vegetative matter into meat than chickens.

They are omnivores, so they don’t need to be fed on Grains like chicken, as they’ll eat anything, including carrots.

They need water and care and the hutches to kept clean and in an area away from Residential area, as they do produce as smell as would any farming operation as can be seen from the article “Remove those rabbits, Doc!”, published Thursday, June 10, 2010 BY HORACE HINES Observer West reporter, The Jamaica Observer

Rabbit Farming is Viable – Ignore their Cuteness and slaughter the bunnies

It’s also a signal for the Farmer in the Island to begin to organize with the Government of Jamaica and Ramp up their Agricultural production of other Agricultural Products, such as Fruits from Fruit Trees like Breadfruit as noted in my blog article entitled “Breadfruit and Fruit Tree Revival coming under RADA's National Fruit-Tree Crop Project - Red Stripe and Agro-Investment Corporation an example of how Agriculture benefits both Farmer and GOJ”.

This demand will remain as long as Jamaica continues to Import Food, whose price is now steadily increasing. With the increasing cost of imported food and thus our very high Food Bill as noted in my blog article entitled “Jamaica's Basic Item Food Bill mostly from 1st World Countries - Buy Jamaican Build Jamaica made from Imported Raw Materials in containers that says Made in Jamaica”, the stage is set for increasing demand for locally Produced Food in commercially viable quantities at prices consumers can afford.

Red Stripe realizes this, which is why they’ve begun to organize Farmers via a partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture's Agro-Investment Corporation to grow Cassava in a Test Pilot to see how best to grow it commercially as explained in my blog article entitled “Red Stripe and Agro-Investment Corporation signs lease Agreement on 36 acres of Land - Farmers benefit from Cassava’s Day in the Sun as we catch up with Africa's by September 2014”.

The Farmers can then utilize any new farming techniques learned to also go in growing Fruit Trees and even the Bamboo and Rattan Industry by growing Bamboo commercially as stated in my blog article entitled “Senator Norman Grant proposes revival of Bamboo and Rattan Industry in Jamaica - Private Sector involvement for the Large-Scale Growing of Bamboo Gods and Iron Men needed”.

For the regular householders who already has a Backyard Garden, growing Rabbits can help to supplement Chicken Meat, as they’re both easy to rear and fast growing. With the current demand, Rabbit Meat will fetch a good price at the Wholesale and Retail Meat Markets as noted in the article “Making Money From Your Backyard”, published Thursday, June 24, 2010 by Cherryll Hanson-Simpson, The Jamaica Observer.

Large scale Community based Farms growing Rabbits is also a source of employment as is the case since 2010 in the Axe and Adze in Mount Peto, Hanover, where 600 persons have been sustainably employed in a project started by the Axe and Adze Citizens' Association with the help of the SDC (Social Development Commission) as stated in the article “Rabbit rearing to the rescue”, published Wednesday July 18, 2012 by Anastasia Cunningham, News Coordinator, The Jamaica Gleaner. 

You just have to make sure that you don’t get too attached to them, as they are awfully cute but tasty to eat and are a source of survival. Plus, they’ll wean Jamaicans off Mongoose and Alligators!

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