Rearing rabbits

SMALL-SCALE PRODUCERS rear rabbits for their wool, meat and pelts. Some are even grown as pets. They can be easily maintained on high forage and low grain diet that is suited for human consumption. Moreover, as compared to other livestock they require low-level nutrients and energy.

In many tribal and backward areas, rearing rabbits has become a source of employment and is picked up as cottage industries by small and marginal farmers. In our country, this industry is picking up mainly for wool production in hilly areas like Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and, of late, in Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh.

The Chellam Joseph Educational and Charitable Trust, as part of its social action in training rural folk, organised an awareness campaign on rabbit-rearing at Devarayapuram village in Thondamuthur block here recently.

About 30 women belonging to four self-help groups attended the training. T. Raj Pravin, managing trustee, addressing the farmers, stressed the need for the rural women to organise themselves for upliftment. He also said that the trust would conduct follow-up workshops.

D.Puthira Prathap, a scientist of the Central Sheep and Wool Research Institute, Kodaikanal, dealt with various aspects of backyard rabbit rearing. He was optimistic that rabbit farming would be profitable in Coimbatore if there were conducive climatic conditions.

He clarified that rabbits could be raised in the backyard with less capital investment and also gave particulars on rabbit-rearing economics. Photographs of exotic broiler breeds like Soviet Chinchilla and White Giant were displayed.

A demonstration session using live rabbits followed. During the interaction, the farmwomen raised doubts on various aspects of rearing, besides the superstitions involved in breeding rabbits. The marketing aspects of various rabbit products like meat, manure and skin were also discussed.

A book titled "Information Technology in Agriculture", authored by T.Raj Pravin, was released. The book deals with the use of computers in agriculture and its benefits.

On behalf of the trust, Pravin donated a pair of broiler rabbits to the trainees.

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