Widow manages successful rabbit farm

What started as the occasional tasty meal of cooked rabbit enjoyed by the whole Chinyai family has become a thriving business for a dynamic Mutare-based widow. CLAYTON MASEKESA reports.

Dorcas Chinyai holding the rabbit.

Dorcas Chinyai holding the rabbit.

“My late husband and I enjoyed breeding and rearing rabbits and the whole family enjoyed eating rabbit meat very much. Initially it was just on the menu of our family,” explained Dorcas Chinyai in a recent interview.
After retiring from being a general worker at the Mutare City Council in 2010, Chinyai, who lived with her three children in Darlington after her husband’s demise, observed that there was a great demand for rabbit meat. She was eager to expand her rabbit rearing enterprise and thereby generate an income for herself.
After receiving financial assistance from her children she erected rabbit hutches and embarked on her money-making venture.
“I saw the opportunity to start my own business and no one was more surprised than me by the demand for rabbits and the success of the enterprise. The time was right for me to take a chance and I dived into the deep end,” said Chinyai.

“Now, two years later, I can’t imagine life without this business. I have sold hundreds of rabbits in the past two years. It is hard work, but I enjoy it. I never dreamt that it would be such a success and I am glad I took the plunge when the opportunity came my way. It was just too good to let it pass me by,” said the widow.
“I also sell the rabbit manure as fertiliser and as a worm-growing medium and the rabbits’ feet as good luck charms. However, the meat is by far the most important and successful product,” she added. “The rabbits are kept in hutches that I built from used and inexpensive material to save costs. Since rabbits prefer semi–darkness, there are small mesh covered windows for good air ventilation,” explained Chinyai.
A female rabbit can produce up to four litters a year if managed properly. “If you treat your breeding stock correctly, you produce far healthier animals.I give thanks because I am able to contribute to my own livelihood. I am able to look after myself and not depend on my children. Now I sometimes help the children with money when the need arises,” she proudly said.

Good returns
Today, Chinyai has no doubt that she will stay in the project for the rest of her life. According to her, the returns on this project range from 70% to 80% of capital invested.
This enterprise is just the beginning of her plans for her community and her family. She has created part time employment for people from the surrounding community and with the growing profits, she now has bigger and more spacious rabbit hutches.
Chinyai now supplies big orders to butcheries, restaurants and individual customers. The rabbits retail for $8, cost $7 for wholesale orders and $10 for a processed, dressed rabbit.
She has used profits to  improve her breeding stock, purchase a freezer, basic equipment, work clothes and for obtaining technical assistance.
Her married daughter, Getrude Gwarada, who is employed elsewhere in the city, has also become her partner in the booming business and assists with marketing.

Hard worker
“My mother is a hard worker with an enterprising spirit. She has improved production and sales levels and has become a productive rabbit producer in the community. This is a very pleasant example of how our mothers have excelled,” said a proud Gwarada.
Chinyai has another dream. Together with her family she plans to open a weekend restaurant at her beautiful spacious residence where rabbit meat will definitely be on the menu. She also hopes to create more jobs and expand her business.
“As a woman I am very proud of this project. I want every client and customer that comes to buy here to feel special,” she said, adding that the most important aspect of her own success is the positive impact that it has had on the surrounding community.

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