By AUSTIN OWOICHO, Abuja
The federal government through the National Agricultural Land Development Authority (NALDA) has commenced a programme for rabbit farming which is expected to engage 17,000 youth, especially in the south, as part of efforts to boost economy and reduce unemployment in the country.
NALDA is expected to make available the rabbits, cage, vaccine and training for the youths free of charge while the beneficiaries are expected to return the kitten when the rabbit delivers so that it would be used to empower others.
Speaking with newsmen Wednesday in Abuja, the Executive Secretary of NALDA, Prince Paul Ikonne, said it would said also buy the urine, dungs and skin of the rabbits from the youths, which is also a source of income for the beneficiaries.
“If you recall, Mr President had launched national young farmers scheme, which we intend to take in 774,000 (seven hundred and seventy-four thousand) young Nigerians into the entire agribusiness, and this program has started implementing the first leg of it which is our animal husbandry.
“In this segment, we are doing goat rearing and rabbits rearing. A lot of people doesn’t know the potentials, the benefits and the money they can make from rearing rabbit. Rabbit has an entire value chain, nothing is a waste farming rabbit.
“So we’re engaging our youths into rabbit farming, NALDA has designed a program to take in 17,000 rabbit farmers especially in the south, and we have commenced the engagement in some states.
“All our programs are in phases, in this first phase, Imo, Abia, Cross River and Oyo States have received rabbits and young farmers have been engaged into rabbit farming,” he said.
“From the meat, the hide, which is the skin, the dungs and the urine, they are all money-making machine.
“The program is very simple, from the first day the farmer start rearing rabbits, they start making money from that day, from the collection of the urine to the collection of the dungs which will be used as fertilizer, their money will keep accumulating, at the end of the month, we’ll pay them based on the litres and kilogram of what they have submitted to NALDA office at their various states before the off-takers take it,” he explained.
Furthermore, he explained “you can see that the benefits of rearing rabbits, before we go into the processing the sale of the animal itself is another means of income, the meat is one of the best meat because it’s white meat and it’s good for those that are having cholesterol issues, that also will be a source of income, then the hide which is the skin is also in high demand for designers.
“So you can see the benefits of engaging our people in rabbit rearing, it is not common in Nigeria, but diversification is the way to go, and agriculture is the direction the world is heading to.
“The beauty about this is that it doesn’t have much hazard, it doesn’t require so much, rabbit virtually eats everything and it doesn’t require too much space, so you can farm it at the smallest space you have in your house whether you are a landlord or a tenant and it doesn’t litter the environment.
On the income from the farming, Prince Ikonne said each beneficiary is expected to earn an average of N100,000 monthly from the sales of the urine, dungs, skin and the rabbit itself.
“At least the average of N100,000 a month somebody will be making from rearing rabbits from all these products, and you can see the level it will get to cater for families and homes, so it is something we have engaged in, and we will keep expanding.”
He said President Muhammadu Buhari has given all the approvals and the funds required to implement the program has been made available to NALDA.
For interested persons, the NALDA boss said “for the process of being a beneficiary, our program is community-based, if you are if you live in an urban area, you have to go identify yourself at NALDA office in your states.
“We have offices across the country, at various state capitals. If you also check our website, you will see NALDA offices, we also have our WhatsApp group for those that intend to rear rabbits to also register through the NALDA WhatsApp Group.”