French rab­bit ex­pert vis­its the Philip­pines

Agriculture - - Contents - BY ANGIE M. VENERACION

WHEN FRENCH rab­bit ex­pert Michel Colin, asked for an au­di­ence with the Bureau of An­i­mal In­dus­try (BAI), the bureau in­vited the As­so­ci­a­tion of Rab­bit Meat Pro­duc­ers (ARaMP), Inc. to the meet­ing.

Led by pres­i­dent Art Veneracion Jr., ARaMP board mem­bers joined the re­cent meet­ing held at the An­i­mal Health and Wel­fare Con­fer­ence Room at the BAI Visayas Ave. com­pound, to­gether with con­cerned BAI of­fi­cials led by An­i­mal Prod­uct De­vel­op­ment Cen­ter (BAIAPDC) OIC Emelina A. Lopez.

COPRI, which Colin rep­re­sents, is mainly a re­search and de­vel­op­ment com­pany lo­cated west of Brit­tany at Ploudalmezeau, in one of France’s first ar­eas of an­i­mal pro­duc­tion. It is now work­ing with France’s Min­istry of Re­search and with dif­fer­ent gov­ern­ment agen­cies and au­thor­i­ties in charge of health and hu­man nutri­tion. It owns a rab­bit farm en­gaged in meat pro­duc­tion. They have al­lo­cated 300 does at the farm to be used exclusively for con­tin­u­ous nu­tri­tional ex­per­i­ments for the im­prove­ment of their farm­ing sys­tems and the qual­ity of meat they pro­duce. Their com­pany mis­sion is “to pro­duce healthy rab­bit meat prof­itable to farm­ers and cheap to con­sumers.”

Colin dis­cussed the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion of rab­bit pro­duc­tion in France and how it has evolved in the last forty years. He shared that there are four plus one key fac­tors for suc­cess in the pro­duc­tion of rab­bits: man­age­ment, feeds, build­ing and en­vi­ron­ment, ge­net­ics, and the most im­por­tant fac­tor, the farmer.

Af­ter his pre­sen­ta­tion, ARaMP board mem­bers shared their in­puts and ex­pe­ri­ences, not­ing that the same ba­sic prin­ci­ples ap­ply to rab­bit pro­duc­tion in the Philip­pines. While it took France forty years to at­tain the level they are at now, it is pos­si­ble to shorten the de­vel­op­ment of the in­dus­try in the Philip­pines since mod­ern equip­ment is avail­able; stud­ies and re­search are more ac­ces­si­ble; and tech­nol­ogy trans­fers can be easily ar­ranged. The be­lief is that the in­volve­ment and help of gov­ern­ment, specif­i­cally the BAI, in the de­vel­op­ment of the rab­bit in­dus­try will has­ten its growth. It was also noted that re­source per­sons like Colin­can greatly help in this en­deavor. Veneracion com­mented that Colin’s pre­sen­ta­tion was an eye-opener that broad­ened the as­so­ci­a­tion’s per­spec­tive re­gard­ing the di­rec­tion that the rab­bit in­dus­try should pur­sue.

Af­ter the meet­ing, ARaMP board mem­bers paid a cour­tesy call to the new BAI Direc­tor, Dr. Simeon S. Amu­rao Jr., to thank him for the help BAI has been ex­tend­ing the as­so­ci­a­tion. Veneracion men­tioned the on­go­ing Rab­bit Dis­per­sal Pro­gram in which ARaMP is the des­ig­nated lead ben­e­fi­ciary and dis­per­sal ad­min­is­tra­tor. He said this will help the growth of the in­dus­try in terms of breed up­grade, and that this will lead to the in­crease in pro­duc­tiv­ity of lo­cally avail­able rab­bits.

The group also up­dated the direc­tor on the present rab­bit in­dus­try sit­u­a­tion, in which there is a huge de­mand for rab­bits as pets, lab­o­ra­tory and ex­per­i­men­tal an­i­mals, and breed­ers. They in­formed Direc­tor Amu­rao that there is a grow­ing de­mand for rab­bit meat but ARaMP wants to be ready be­fore the mem­bers be­gin to mar­ket this to ho­tels, restau­rants, and meat shops. The direc­tor re­it­er­ated that his of­fice is open to the as­so­ci­a­tion for any in­dus­try con­cerns and will al­ways be avail­able for con­sul­ta­tions and as­sis­tance.

Colin also vis­ited AVEN Na­ture’s Farm the next day to see a lo­cal rab­bitry so that he could gauge the progress of the in­dus­try in the coun­try.He was im­pressed by the sim­ple set­ups and fa­cil­i­ties that are adapted to Philip­pine con­di­tions and can easily be du­pli­cated by small farm­ers and beginner rab­bit rais­ers.He also noted that the rab­bits in the farm were healthy and thriv­ing in cages un­der the trees.

Veneracion shared that the farm has plans for ex­pan­sion and will even­tu­ally build hous­ing for the rab­bits. AVEN Na­ture’s Farm wants to in­crease pro­duc­tion tobe able to meet the grow­ing mar­ket de­mand for both live rab­bits and rab­bit meat. He noted that ARaMP mem­bers are ex­pand­ing their op­er­a­tions and are pool­ing their re­sources to grow the in­dus­try, adding that the pro­vin­cial vet­eri­nary of­fice (PVO) of Bu­la­can gave its full sup­port to lo­cal rab­bit breed­ers, con­tribut­ing much needed tech­ni­cal sup­port

A FRUITFUL EX­CHANGE Colin said that one of the strengths of COPRI is con­tin­ued ex­per­i­men­ta­tion. It is be­lieved that the pro­duc­tiv­ity of rab­bits is highly de­pen­dent on feed for­mu­la­tion,and rab­bit rais­ers have to en­sure that ad­e­quate nutri­tion is pro­vided. COPRI uses dif­fer­ent types of for­mula adapted to ev­ery phys­i­o­log­i­cal stage of the rab­bits.

For­mula re­quire­ments may also vary ac­cord­ing to farm con­di­tions, and some sup­ple­ments for the rab­bits’ di­ets may be needed. He then of­fered to bring some lo­cal feed for­mula sam­ples to France for con­tent anal­y­sis, af­ter which he will give rec­om­men­da­tions for im­prove­ment to ARaMP an­dits Philip­pine rab­bit pel­let sup­plier. He also ex­pressed sup­port for ARaMP’s ven­tures and de­clared that he is will­ing to share his ex­per­tise on rab­bit nutri­tion and the tech­nol­ogy of COPRI to help grow the lo­cal in­dus­try.

Veneracion ex­pressed his ap­pre­ci­a­tion that Colin’s com­pany did not use an­tibi­otics, sub­sti­tut­ing nat­u­ral sub­stances for them, adding that his AVEN Na­ture’s Farm and ARaMP mem­bers also prac­tice the use of nat­u­ral ingredients and lo­cally avail­able ma­te­ri­als.

Colin en­joyed lunch at the farm, with the meal fea­tur­ing dishes such as the pop­u­lar rab­bit kaldereta; hewas pleased with the dish and noted the good meat qual­ity, tex­ture, and ex­cel­lent taste, ask­ing for its recipe and those of the other rab­bit-based dishes served at the farm. Angie Veneracion shared that at Aven Na­ture’s Farm, rab­bit sisig is an­other fa­vorite— made with rab­bit brain in­stead of may­on­naise, the dish is health­ier and tastier. As a re­sult of the lunch, a “recipe trans­fer on top of a tech­nol­ogy trans­fer” agree­ment was forged.

ARaMP direc­tors and BAI of­fi­cials with French rab­bit ex­pert Michel Colin (fifth from right), at the An­i­mal Health and Wel­fare Di­vi­sion of Bureau of An­i­mal In­dus­try in Que­zon City. Ear­lier, Colin de­liv­ered a pre­sen­ta­tion show­ing the rab­bit pro­duc­tion sit­u­a­tion in France and how it has evolved through the years.

Colin vis­ited AVEN Na­ture’s Farm in Bal­i­uag, Bu­la­can and was im­pressed by the sim­ple setup and fa­cil­i­ties that have been adapted to Philip­pine con­di­tions and can be easily du­pli­cated by farm­ers and beginner rab­bit rais­ers. He no­ticed that the rab­bits in the farm are healthy and thriv­ing in cages un­der the trees.

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