Flora Vadzai Sibanda, Chronicle Reporter
After the death of his mother in 2006, Mr. Nkosilothando Sekosana (36 years old) from Gicamkonto village in Matobo province, then 20 years old, took a leap of faith and used his savings to buy two rabbits.
Despite the lack of specialized experience in rabbit breeding, he gradually developed a strong passion for rabbits and was able to understand this concept.
He was inspired by a friend who used to keep rabbits as pets.
Today, Mr. Sikhosana is a successful commercial rabbit farmer with 80 giant British breed rabbits kept on his rabbit farm in Jikamkhonto Village.
The British giant can weigh up to 7 kg and is the largest among the English rabbit breeds.
They have been bred for a variety of colors such as agate, white, sable, blue, gray and black. These rabbits need to be looked after regularly in order to keep their fur in top condition.
The average lifespan is four to six years, which is quite low for rabbits. This breed is common in England.
Since venturing into rabbit farming 16 years ago, life has never been the same for a rabbit farmer. Rabbit farming has turned into a profitable business, which has made it possible for the sikhosana to reinvest the proceeds into its business while fulfilling other financial obligations.
It sells live and slaughtered rabbits to both locals and tourists. Each rabbit goes for $10. Because of its taste and nutritional value, rabbit meat was in great demand. Rabbit meat is less fat, healthier, and contains more protein, calories, calcium, and vitamins than any other animal meat.
“I never thought rabbits would change my life one day. By raising rabbits, I discovered that I could actually make a living,” said Mr. Sekosana.
“While rabbits require less capital, limited space and a modest amount of food to survive, they need constant monitoring. Since I started this business, I have neither looked back nor regretted the risk.”
After his mother’s death, Mr. Sikhosana was able to modernize their home using the proceeds from his work.
“By raising rabbits, I was able to modernize our family home. When my parents died, there was only one hut, but I was able to build three more huts and I also support my family through these rabbits,” he said.
Mr. Sikhosana said he registered an active business during the “My Beautiful Home, Comba Indlu Ngobuciko” competition, which attracted a lot of domestic and international tourists
He said he now sells his rabbits to tourists attracted by the My Beautiful Home contest.
The competition, which has been running for the past eight years, has seen people in rural areas of Matobo region decorate their huts by beautifully painting them.
Opened in 2014 by renowned historian Mr. Bathisa Nyathi Amagugu Heritage Trust, the My Beautiful Home competition seeks to revive traditional hut painting using natural pigments such as soil, water, ash and charcoal.
Through the competition, the Heritage Fund seeks to revitalize the practice as a mechanism for recognizing and appreciating the role of women in family and community development and the preservation of cultural heritage in general.
Awards are given to the best bungalows in terms of interior and exterior design and the best environment.
“The competition attracted a lot of tourists to Suite 22 who came to see the beautiful home paintings. Just last month, I sold nearly 50 rabbits for $10 each.
“A lot of tourists prefer rabbits either as pets or as a delicacy, so during that time I get a lot of business.”
Sekosana said rabbit farming has big profit margins with stable production throughout the year because it is not a seasonal business. Within a year, rabbits can reproduce six times depending on how they are fed.
Female rabbits last from five to six months Mature while males reach maturity at six to seven months from the time they are born.
Rabbits’ health largely depends on how they maintain their coops. If the barn is unclean, rabbits become easily infected which leads to low growth rates.
Mr. Sekhosana said he also obtains manure for his crops by raising rabbits.
He said “My future plan is to expand and get more rabbits so that I can supply on a larger scale” -flora_sibanda
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