THE escalating cost of rabbit pellets is posing a significant threat to Zimbabwe's rabbit farming community, with fears that many farmers may be forced out of business if immediate action is not taken.

In Zimbabwe, a 50-kilogramme pack of rabbit pellets costs between US$25 and US$33, compared to South Africa, Kenya, Botswana, and Zambia where a similar product retails at between US$15 and US$17.

Zimbabwe Commercial Rabbit Breeders Association (Zicorba) president Regis Nyamakanga attributed this price disparity to monopolies controlling the stock feed market in Zimbabwe, leading to unjustified price hikes that undermine the viability of farming.

Nyamakanga said there was an urgent need to open the agricultural input sector to more players to ensure fair pricing and sustainability in the farming industry. He was speaking on the sidelines of a Zicorba Feed Formulation workshop held in Harare on Friday.

Rabbit farming has emerged as a vital sector for creating employment, particularly in peri-urban and rural areas, but the escalating costs of agricultural inputs, especially stock feed, threaten to stifle its growth and economic contributions.

“The escalating prices of agricultural inputs, such as stockfeed, is asphyxiating the country’s agricultural sector, which is the backbone of our economy. Unless something is done to address the situation, the revival of this vital sector will remain a pipedream and many farmers will be forced out of business,” Nyamakanga said.

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To mitigate these challenges, Zicorba is exploring solutions such as on-farm feed mixing to reduce input costs and has sought expert assistance in this regard.

However, Nyamakanga said that the long-term solution lies in fostering competition and diversity in the agricultural input industry to safeguard the interests of farmers and sustain the growth of the sector.

Zicorba was established in July 2020 and has quickly emerged as one of the most dynamic and successful farming associations in Zimbabwe, with chapters stablished across all ten provinces of the country.

Moreover, the association has forged strategic alliances with rabbit farming associations across Africa, fostering a collaborative ecosystem conducive to knowledge exchange and mutual growth.