Zimbabwe: Rabbit meat gaining popularity as a protein source (Global Press Journal)

| December 23, 2018

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Brian Machipisa is the head chef of Gava’s restaurant in Zimbabwe’s capital of Harare. He adds fresh yellow peppers, tomatoes, and cucumbers to a plate filled with tender, golden-brown pieces of meat. The meal he’s preparing is a best-seller, and the key ingredient is rabbit meat.

Mr. Machipisa says, “We have three different ways of serving the rabbit. It can be prepared as stew, barbecue, or with peanut butter sauce.”

At his restaurant, a meal with rabbit costs $6 US and is served with sadza, a Zimbabwean staple food made of maize.

Rabbit farmers in Zimbabwe say their businesses are booming thanks to a growing demand for the meat among Harare’s foodies and restaurateurs. In the capital, the meat is known and loved for its health benefits, taste, texture, and versatility.

Larger livestock are highly valued and widely consumed in Zimbabwe. However, the country’s long-suffering economy has made it difficult for people across the country to purchase cattle. One cow can cost upwards of $250 US, plus the costs to raise it.

But people have not given up on meat.

Tafadzwa Million lives in the village of Domboshava. He says that smaller livestock, including rabbits, are cheaper, easier to raise, and sell quickly.

Mr. Million has been rearing rabbits with his partner Mind Chibranda since 2014. The pair currently own about 2,700 rabbits and sell up to 300 a month. He’s hoping to increase the number of rabbits he owns to 10,000.

He says the cost of raising 50 to 100 rabbits is $50 US, and the animals give birth after just 31 days of pregnancy.

The rabbits are bred and sold at different stages: A baby rabbit goes for $4 on the market, while a rabbit ready for mating is sold for $20. A rabbit between these two stages is $12. Any one of these is suitable for consumption.

The coveted source of protein is low in cholesterol and fats compared to other types of meat.

Mr. Million says, “The rabbit market is growing because people are moving away from eating meat like broiler chickens, which are [higher] in fat.”

Jonathan Tembo is the executive chairman of the Rabbit Breeders and Producers Association of Zimbabwe. He says that the health benefits are driving farmers’ sales.

Sabina Macera grew up in a rural area of Zimbabwe. She only recently found out about the health benefits of the meat, even though she’s been eating rabbit since she was a child. Now she purchases the meat regularly.

She says: “When I was young, I did not know that there were health benefits associated with the meat. I am diabetic, and some of my friends told me that adding rabbit meat to my diet can be helpful, because it has low cholesterol and low fat, which is good for my health.”

At Gava’s restaurant, many tourists are trying the meat for the first time, while some locals have been eating it for a while.

Mr. Machipisa says: “Most people who are elderly last ate rabbit meat when they were young and still living in the village. These people now come to our restaurants to buy the meat which they used to eat before.”

This story was adapted from an article titled, “Rabbit Meat Gains Fans in Zimbabwe as a Healthy Protein Source” written by Gamuchirai Masiyiwa for Global Press Journal. To read the original article, go to: https://globalpressjournal.com/africa/zimbabwe/rabbit-meat-gains-fans-zimbabwe-healthy-protein-source/

Photo: Samson Mashonganyika holds a rabbit at Tafadzwa Million’s farm. Credit: Gamuchirai Masiyiwa, GPJ Zimbabwe