The Department of Animal Science, School of Agriculture, has organised a one-day training on “Rabbit Farming as a Business” for members of the Anglican Diocesan Development and Relief Organisation.
The trainer of trainee programme is aimed at equipping the participants to train other farmers in the Upper East Region.
Participants were taken through “Management of Breeding Stock, Feeding, Disease Control and Prevention, Processing of Rabbit Meat and Rabbit Rearing as a Business.”
In his remarks at the opening of the seminar, the Dean of the School of Agriculture, Prof. Elvis Asare-Bediako, said farming could serve as a great business venture for individuals if best practice was adopted. “Farming is a lucrative venture and all we need to do is to pay special attention to it so that we can alleviate poverty and improve the standard of living of Ghanaians,” he stated.
Prof. Asare-Bediako commended the participants for showing interest in the training programme and urged them to encourage their colleagues to contact the School for such tailor-made short courses. “UCC is one of the best Agriculture Institutions both in Ghana and Africa and we are ready to train individuals and farmers to adopt best practice to improve productivity as well as creating wealth for Ghanaians” he noted.
The Head of the Department of Animal Science, Dr. Julius Hagan, said Agriculture was an all-encompassing discipline comprising Soil Science, Agric Engineering, Animal Science, Crop Science and others. “All these branches have a critical role to play in ensuring that your Rabbit Farming is successful, “he stated.
Dr. Hagan said the training was a starting point because there would be the need for them to enhance their knowledge and skills by learning new methods in handling the rabbits as their number increases. He said the training was the Department’s Corporate Social Responsibility, stressing that “Our joy is to see rabbit farming booming in the Upper East Region so that UCC’s name will be mentioned whenever anyone makes reference to this success”.
Explaining the importance of Rabbit farming, a lecturer at the Department of Animal Science, Dr. Moses Teye, said grazing lands in Ghana were gradually being converted into Estate Housing, Urban Centres and other commercial projects. He said the development called for studies into the production of animal species which were prolific, but required minimal space and resources to manage them. “The rabbit, has been realised to be a very suitable candidate to achieve that aim,” he explained.
Based on these findings, Dr. Teye said the Department decided to venture into scientific rabbit production for supply to consumers and farmers in Ghana. He said the Department realised that the National Rabbit Project which started in the 1970s collapsed because of the introduction of foreign breeds which could not withstand the tropical conditions and diseases. According to him, another reason was that consumers thought rabbits were too cute and innocent to be slaughtered for use as food, hence, were not patronising the meat.
Dr. Teye said the Department started with an initial breeding stock of 10 rabbits from across the country which have now increased to 500, after three years of production. He said “these breeds have faster rates. We decided to test the marketing potential of the meat so we slaughtered about 60 rabbits, cured and smoked for sale and it will amaze you that after six hours the meat got finished”.
Unofficially, we have trained and supplied animals to lecturers, retirees, business men and women, as well as our own students, he stated. Dr. Teye indicated that 300 rabbits have been sold to farmers in Cape Coast, Accra and Ashanti Region whiles 400 smoked rabbit meat have been sold in Cape Coast alone, all within three years of operation.
Dr. Teye used the opportunity to call on individuals and organisations to adopt rabbit production as a business to help reduce poverty, hunger and malnutrition in Ghana. He said the Department has the expertise to facilitate the training of all individuals and organisations in profitable rabbit production. “We are going international, as the World Rabbit Organisation is now getting interested in our activities” he stated.
The team behind the UCC Success in Rabbit Farming are Julius Hagan (Breeder, and Head of Department), Dr. Moses Teye (Meat Scientist and Production Manager), Mr. Isaac Otoo (Technician and Manager), Prof. Samuel Apori (Animal Nutritionist) and Prof. Annan Prah (Vet and Microbiologist).