The Philippines eyes rabbit meat as a replacement for pork
Due to the ASF outbreaks in the country, Filipino authorities seek to encourage small farmers to switch for backyard farming of pork to rabbit farming. The backyard pig population in the Philippines is believed to be 8.2 million, a decrease of 1.7% compared to the previous year.
Two of the regions with a high density in swine population, Central Luzon and Calabarzon, have been hit by ASF and the swine population in the area has declined by almost 40%. Most of the backyard farms in this area have already closed their operations.
Agriculture Secretary William Dar mentioned at the end of February that while the Department of Agriculture was looking at poultry as the major alternative to pigs, the production of rabbit meat is not excluded, given that many hog farmers have expressed discouragement on raising pigs due to ASF threat. “We are serious. All options are on the table. It’s part of a basket of options. We have to look at commodities that can substitute pork. Rabbit farming has a very short growth cycle. You can expand more when you have a shorter growth cycle,” Dar said, according to the Manila Times newspaper.
However, rabbit meat is not widely consumed in the Philippines. Cultured rabbits are typically found in Bulacan, a province considered to be a major area for rabbit raising.
Few days after the official's comment, The Association of Rabbit Meat Producers (Aramp), in collaboration with the Bulacan Agricultural State College conducted a two-day program dubbed as the First National Rabbit Congress in Bulacan aiming to increase the awareness on rabbit production as a source of income, introducing rabbit meat as an alternative source of protein and good nutrition, and recognizing the rabbit industry as a major livestock segment in the Philippines.
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