Moses Mutua, 34, is a cut above the rest in Kenya’s rabbit farming business. As the founder and chairman of Rabbit Republic, the former guard ships his products to markets in East Africa, China, France, and Germany.
Mr Mutua was reluctantly recruited as a guard with Wells Fargo in 2002 after seeing his dreams of being conscripted into the Kenya Defence Forces fail to materialise, he says.
At Wells Fargo, he enrolled for a course at Kenya Institute of Professional Studies, graduating with a diploma in sales and marketing.
“I embarked on a serious job hunt and landed an opportunity at an agribusiness company, Aqua-Pro, as a salesman. I worked with the firm for two years and left in 2007,” he told Money.
As a salesman, he developed a keen interest in agribusiness through capacity building initiatives by the firm on best practices in aquaculture.
“A training by a team of Israelis on ornamental fishing motivated me to register ‘Aquafarm Consultants’, an investment that embarked on massive production of tilapia fingerlings,” he said.
As chance would have it, his venture got a shot in the arm through the government’s Economic Stimulus Programme (ESP) which helped farmers stock more fish in their ponds during the 2009/2010 financial year.
With increased production, he started contemplating launching a business with an even higher potential. Mr Mutua had already identified rabbit farming as an opportunity seeing him begin a two-year survey on the sub-sector in Kenya with a view to identifying the gaps that needed to be filled. His efforts gave rise to the Rabbit Republic Limited.
“I studied all sorts of domesticated rabbits and their food value; established links with farmers who were already in the business albeit in small-scale. We have been professionalising the business,” he said.
In 2011, he partnered with an institution and setup a farm in Ongata Rongai with a capacity to hold over 10,000 rabbits and an abattoir. Mr Mutua would then leave his aquaculture investment.
He later registered the company Rabbit Republic Limited last year.
“After 2010 ASK shows in Eldoret and Nairobi, I secured contacts with many farmers who showed interest in rabbit farming,” he said.
In Rabbit Republic, Mr Mutua says that he engaged farmers through training on best practices in breeding, hatch construction, disease management, feeding and production control.
He says that the Kenyan market is projected to serve an international demand of over 120 tonnes per day in Spain, China and other markets. His business plans to open outlets in the 47 counties.
“We are planning to set up model farms in every county; commercial rabbit farming has a potential of raising domestic income of Sh20,000 per month and above for every farmer participating in the project; this can be raised by as little as five breeder rabbits” he notes.
Rabbit Republic managing director Yash Goel says that the firm is in talks with other stakeholders — banks, financial institutions, insurers and NGO’s.
“We have launched initiatives to link farmers with companies offering credit; this will in turn help in eradication of poverty, food shortage, and unemployment” said Mr Goel.
Mr Goel added that the farm is working on setting up a pellet production plant to reduce the cost of feeding and regularize its availability.