Commercial rearing of rabbits is relatively new in Kenya but it is now the fastest growing activity. The development of the export business is at the infant stages. There are not many exporters but they will increase with time as more people invest and realize a reasonable return on investment.
Most of our exports have been to Sudan but there are major markets in Europe and China. China particularly consumes a lot of use rabbit fur for fashion accessories. But Kenya rabbit farmers miss a lot of opportunities because of the large volumes required and the tough safety regulations required. Many importers require minimum consignments of 1000kg supplied on a weekly basis which many of our farmers cannot meet.
However the government and National Council for Science and Technology are trying to address this problem by promoting commercial rearing of rabbits. There are other private players like the Rabbit Breeders Association who are actively involved in this. The aim is to provide a platform where rabbit farmers have a bigger voice and ensure a steady supply of rabbits to the export market.
To be a successful rabbit exporter you need to know the export regulations governing the industry. All exporters require a Trade License. You also need to understand the CIF and FOB terms of export. CIF stands for Cost, Insurance and Freight, which means that the seller must pay the costs and freight necessary to bring the goods to the named port of destination as well as procure marine insurance against the buyer’s risk of loss or damage to the goods during carriage. The seller contracts for insurance and pays the insurance premium. FOB stands for Free On Board, meaning that the seller fulfils his obligation to deliver when the goods have passed over the ship’s rail at the named port of shipment. The buyer therefore has to bear all costs and risks of loss or damage to the goods from that point onwards.
You will need to know the normal export regulations because the Customs and Excise requirements for export of livestock and livestock products are similar to the general requirements for other commodities. You must be registered with Customs and Excise department as an exporter where you are given an export code number among other requirements. For this you must have a PIN. There are no duties paid on exports but there general payments made to the customs department.
Finally you will require authorization from the Ministry of Livestock Development certified by the Director of Veterinary Services (DVS) that the livestock and livestock products (meat, hides and skins) are free from disease. Normally processing of this takes two days but priority is given to perishable goods such meat and meat products which can take only a few hours.
The main conditions by the DVS depend on the nature of the export, whether live animals, meat products or hides. For Live animals you need a No Objection Permit and a Movement Permit. If it is meat and meat products the animals intended for export must be slaughtered in designated export slaughterhouses and an inspection certificate issued as passed meat for shipments to the destined foreign country. Hides and skins will require a Hides and Skins Movement Permit.