At a time when economic growth rate is on the slide,and price rise and unemployment are rampant,two progressive farmers,including an octogenarian,have been showing the way to earn handsome bucks by investing less money,less space and less time. All this by sitting at home. All this through rabbit farming.
The duo has successfully opened 80 rabbit units-cum-farms in less than a year after opening their own rabbit farm. These units were opened in various districts across the state by motivating people and providing them breed under buyback policy. They are now also guiding,educating and training youngsters to move towards self employment with rabbit farming. Subsidy too is available for opening rabbit farms.
Even experts from animal husbandry,Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) Ludhiana,have been visiting this farm at Karriha along with people who want to open their rabbit units for meat purpose.
Farmer Bikram Singh Johal,82,who spent many decades in UK returned 12 years back to his village,and his associate Charanjit Singh Mehli,45,a farmer from Phagwara,were involved in organic farming and floriculture before they opened their own rabbit farm BCS or Johal rabbit farm in village Karriha district Nawanshahr on August 17,2012.
We wanted to do something which could provide self-employment to the educated youth and good and quick earning for small and poor farmers. Rabbit farming made this dream come true, said Mehli.
We got the idea of rabbit farming during our visit to Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (GADVASU) in Ludhiana some three years back. During a kisan mela GADVASU rabbit unit head Dr. Mandip Singh guided us towards rabbit farming and we started it on an experimental basis, said Mehli. Soon, he added,we realised it to be a profitable occupation and opened our own in August last year with a unit of 70 does (female rabbits) and 30 bucks (male rabbits) by investing Rs 2.50 lakhs. Currently the Johal farm is selling around 550 to 600 rabbits for meat purposes every month (around 6000 to 7000 per year worth several millions) apart from buying 1000s from other units which it got opened under a buy back policy to save rearers from any marketing problem. Rabbit meat sells for around Rs. 500 per kg and slaughter weight of rabbit is about 2 to 2.5 kg which can be achieved in 12 to 15 weeks as its meat is best for weight control,cholesterol and sugar control and contains around 22 per cent proteins, said Charanjit Singh.
BCS farm expanded further by opening its dealerships including one at Ferozpur. It also supplies rabbits to PAU Ludhiana for making vaccination for other animals. While Bikram Singh Johal,who is a father figure to Mahli,invested in BCS farm,Mehli looks after training and supply of rabbits and does farm visits.
Rabbit farming is a best lifetime business to earn good money every month with a small investment and less effort, said Dr. Kulbir Singh Sodhi,Deputy Director Animal Husbandry Department,adding that little training is required. Many women too have taken to it to increase their family income. It requires less capital and can be done anywhere at a farm,backyard,terrace or even at home. One can feed anything vegetarian to the rabbit including surplus vegetables from the market,tree leaves or cattle grass. It is easy and affordable and the feed costs less then Re. 1 per day, said Dr Sodhi. We took people to BCS farm to inspire them to take to rabbit farming. BCS farm is the fastest growing rabbit farm in the state. The government too must open its own rabbit farm as it has a vast scope, said Dr. Sodhi adding that in less then one year BCS has managed to open around 80 units including 40 in Nawanshahr and 25 in Hoshiarpur districts.
In rabbit farming income starts after four months. The rabbits multiply quickly as they have a fast breeding rate. A doe delivers kittens six to seven times a year and one doe can deliver five to ten babies per delivery in the first year which can go up to 10 to 15 baby rabbits per delivery in the second year, said Mehli adding that though few kittens die,the survival rate is still very good.
The average age at first mating is about 5-7 months. The reproduction capacity of rabbits is very high. One female rabbit delivers almost every 32 days. The life span of a rabbit is about six to seven years.
The smallest rabbit unit consists of 10 +2 rabbits including 10 does and two bucks at a cost of Rs. 37,000 including the cost of the rabbits,their cages,medical etc.
The National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) provides 25 per cent subsidy to the person of general category and 33 per cent to the SC and BC categories to open rabbit units, said Dr. Sodhi adding that they identify the beneficiaries for loan purposes.
A person can open several units and avail subsidy accordingly. With a unit of 70+30 a person starts earning Rs 45,000 to Rs. 55,000 per month after four to five months of its opening.
Johal farm has inspired unemployed youth,women and even those returning from abroad.
After spending nine years in Greece,when Sukhwinder Singh returned home (Punjab) he had never thought of settling down owing to less employment opportunities. But now I am earning Rs 35,000 to 45,000 per month within five to six months after opening my rabbit farm at Chak Kalal village in April this year. I am not think of returning to Greece ever. Instead,am looking to enhance my income here only, he said.
He added,I took training at Johal farm and started my unit of 70+30 in April this year and have started earning Rs 35,000 to 50,000 per month now, while suggesting that the government should provide medical facilities to the rabbit units.
BCS farm also received awards from the Punjab Animal Husbandry and Agriculture departments for rearing and helping to open rabbit units in the state.
Kamlesh Kumari also opened one such unit in Bheem Nagar Hoshiarpur after taking training from BCS farm along with mother-in-law.
Gurpal Singh of Sarhali village in Jalandhar,is a big farmer with 150 acres including 10 acres of his own. He has also started this recently after getting rabbits from BCS farm.
Dr. Sodhi said that rabbit meat has huge demand in European countries and China has been the largest exporter of it currently. Punjab can tap this opportunity if the government jumps into it.
Dr. Baldev Raj,Deputy Director PAU Veterinary unit,said that they are preparing vaccinations for other animals from the rabbits.