Kerala: Rabbits might soon find themselves on the plane to the gulf, not so much for greener pastures but to suit the changing palates of people in the Gulf. The demand for rabbit meat has increased following the bird flu scare, and is much like the oasis in the desert, for what was a dry gulf palate sans the chicken.
Gulf countries are exploring the options of importing rabbit meat and this has led to several enquiries flooding the State Animal Husbandry Department. E G Premjain, Assistant Director (Trade and Investment Cell), Animal Husbandry Department, said "We've been receiving several enquiries from the Gulf countries since last year. Majority of them are from Saudi Arabia, seeking information on the export possibilities and how to go about setting up rabbit farms there"
Rabbit meat is also considered as a better health option owing to its low-fat, low-cholesterol benefits, as compared to other white meat.
Kerala's rabbit population is estimated at 3-4 lakh, and is having a growth rate of above 50 per cent. This number will further go up given the promotional schemes initiated by various agencies, like the Kudumbasree.
Organized export still has to cross many checks, which would call for better standards in certification that is a prerequisite for export. The Livestock Production Inspection Office (LPIO), at Ernakulam in Kerala is still in under construction and will be operational in the next 2 years.