Factors influencing rabbit farming: A case of rabbit production project in Abothuguchi West Division, Meru County, Kenya
Food security and availability is a challenge globally; making individuals, governments and other stakeholders to seek for production alternatives. In the developing world; the poor are prone to both starvation and food insecurity. Increase in the human population indicates a need for increased production. Animal protein is scarce to the low income sections of the society due to its high prices, raising the need for diversifying the sources. Rabbit rearing is one of the options. The study dwelt with the demographic factors of the sample population, the attitude on rabbit farming, their incomes, and rabbit products and benefits attracting farmers to rabbit farming. The target population consisted of rabbit farmers in Abothuguchi West division of Meru County, Kenya. There were 78 rabbit farmers sampled in this study. Data were collected using structured questionnaires and observations. The response rate was 84.6%. Data was cleaned and edited in Excel computer package and descriptive statistics arrived at using statistical package for social sciences (SPSS). The findings were that contrary to expectations, 72.5% adult reared rabbits, with 39.4% of rabbit farmers owning 10 to 20 rabbits and that the negative attitude against rabbit keeping had reduced over time. It was established that rabbit farming keeping thrived mainly because of being a source of white meat-food, income and manure as a combination 78.8% of the farmers confirmed. It was recommended that information regarding rabbit products and benefits be passed to the potential keepers. The study has revealed several facts about rabbit farming in Abothuguchi West division so Livestock extension officers must bridge as they avail these information through trainings. The Government could also use media especially the local language stations since the study has indicated that some farmers got initial rabbit farming ideas from the media, however, there should be an initiative to invite extension officers to these stations so as to give appropriate message which when left to media people there are gaps or misinformation released to the multitude. The suggestions included are due to increasing pressure on land as a result of increased population, land is getting sub divided to very small units, a research to compare traditional enterprises to these areas (coffee, tea and dairy) and emerging enterprises (rabbit farming) need to be done to reveal how they could either complement each other or replace one another.