TANZANIA - The first ever restaurant specializing in rabbit cuisine in the country will open for business in Arusha this month as part of efforts to promote commercial farming of the small mammals.
The Rabbit Bliss Tanzania Co. Ltd initiative is yet another endeavour to develop a robust rabbit meat industry in the country and offer local breeders a sure market.
The company has since last December been recruiting and engaging farmers to rear rabbits whose growing meat demand has created a ready regional and global market worth billions of shillings.
Rabbit meat business was valued at US$200.29 million (about 433bn/-) globally in 2009 but has since then grown by leaps and bounds largely due to its unique taste and the health benefits it provides.
“We are also promoting consumption of rabbit meat as a healthy was of living to help avoid lifestyle diseases associated with red meat such as gout, high cholesterol, heart diseases and the like,” Rabbit Bliss director Atukuzwe William told The Guardian.
It is projected that lifestyle diseases will cause 73 per cent of all deaths by 2020 and cover 60 per cent of the global disease burden.
According to nutritionists and other health experts, rabbit meat is all while meat and the whitest with its cholesterol level being much lower than chicken, turkey, beef, and pork.
They say rabbit meat is highest in protein percentage and it is the most nutritious meat known to man. They say the meat is suitable for special diets such as those for heart disease patients, diets for the aged, low sodium diets, and weight reduction diets.
Rabbit Bliss is a subsidiary of Rabbit Republic Ltd., which has pioneered the business in Kenya and eyes to extend its outreach in the Great Lakes region market.
Atukuzwe said currently they are retailing rabbit meat sausages in Arusha, which are sourced from the Rabbit Republic factory in Kenya. The company plans to reach other cities and towns in the country starting with Dar es Salaam.
“When market conditions allow, we will produce these sausages and other products locally…This will be some time in 2016. Our plan is to rent a place and fix machines for processing the rabbit meat products,” Atukuzwe told The Guardian in a recent interview.
He said that although commercial rabbit farming is a new and nascent industry in Tanzania, future prospects are big owing to the growing interest in the meat locally. That is in additional to the commercial potential in regional and international markets, he added.
According to him, many people are increasingly becoming enthusiastic in the novel line of business, which requires minimal capital to start and operate. Starting with a buck and a doe, a backyard breeder can obtain a quantity of meat over the course of a year equal to the weight of an entire cow.
“We plan to open the first rabbit restaurant in Tanzania this month in Arusha as part of the campaign to popularize the meat in the country and help to evolve the industry, which is very lucrative in some countries such as China,” Atukuzwe said.
The global trade is currently dominated by five countries namely China (20.7 per cent), France (16.9 per cent), Belgium (14.1 per cent), Hungary (13.6 per cent) and Italy (9.2 per cent) cumulatively accounting for 74.5 per cent of exports of rabbit meat.
In 2009, 39,213 tonnes were exported globally with each tonne fetching $5,109.