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“Today you are presented with the opportunity to make good on the foresight of the Department of Agriculture and the goodwill and support of IICA,” said Technical Specialist, St. Kitts and Nevis IICA Delegation, Ms Sharon Jones. “Today you will not only receive the training to rear your animals, but you will leave here with a good start – a pair of rabbits, which you are expected to look after, to care for and to multiply.”
She added: “I am told that a female rabbit or doe can have as much as 3-4 litters per year of about six to eight animals per litter. So this is just the start of your journey.”
Ms Jones made the remarks at the function which was held at the Department of Agriculture Conference Room in LaGuerite to launch the IICA Rabbit Rearing Project where 33 farmers were presented with a pair of rabbits each. Also addressing the gathering was Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Marine Resources the Hon Alexis Jeffers.
“Rabbit meat is also very healthy and nutritious meal, low in cholesterol, low in fat, and I am told on the French islands of Martinique, Guadeloupe and St. Martin, one pound of meat sells at US$25,” observed Ms Jones. “So it is a very good initiative to go into it as an industry. With these stocks I hope each and every one of us considers it not just as a way of supplementing of food, but also investing it as start up to a very viable venture.”
She encouraged them to contact the St. Kitts Rabbit Association, whose Treasurer Mr Kevin Bowry was present, for continuous training and upliftment along their journey.
“IICA applauds the Department of Agriculture in getting creative and taking action towards food security at the household level, which will with your commitment translate into food security of the Federation,” said Ms Jones. “With this I wish you on behalf of IICA a very productive workshop, a constructive endeavour in rabbit rearing that puts food on your table, save you money and eventually puts money in your pocket.”
Ms Jones, who brought greetings from the Director General of Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) Mr Manuel Otero and the IICA Representative for the Eastern Caribbean Mr Gregg Rawlins, gave the initiative’s background which came out of IICA’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Region to offer assistance.
The Department of Agriculture on St. Kitts which accepted the offer was interested in reducing the burden for food and nutrition at the household level and identified the importance of a local source of animal protein that was completely local and needed no importation of animals, or animal feed. After discussions they came up with rabbit rearing.
Nevis opted for backyard gardening where IICA will provide each of the ten participating households with a raised seed bed that will help to keep out predators, as householders have been losing crops, fruits and vegetables to animals especially monkeys and donkeys. The initiative will be launched next week.
Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Marine Resources, the Hon Alexis Jeffers, described the activity as an important step, and an important milestone in Federation’s effort to provide the country with some level of food security and also provide some level of income for the potential farmers and those who would ensure that the particular venture would be successful.
“We are happy IICA continues to partner with the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis,” said Minister Jeffers. “We have had a longstanding relationship, and it goes back many years. We want to continue this longstanding relationship and this partnership because IICA throughout the world has demonstrated that it is an organisation that has the interest of the farmers, the interest of various institutions that you partner with as well in this region in particular.”
The Honourable Minister added: “You (IICA) also have demonstrated that based on the training that you have imparted, there have been some successes and we can certainly build on those as we go.”
After the ceremony, a workshop on ‘Introduction to Rabbit Production’ was conducted by Livestock Production Officer, Mr Jeffrey Berry. Also in attendance were Permanent Secretary Mr Ron Doblin Collins, and Chief Veterinary Officer Dr Tracey Challenger.