DAISY Moleko is among the very few women in South Africa who are in the commercial rabbit farming sector.
Moleko, who hails from Vaal, ventured into this type of farming by chance after her doctor suggested that she eats white meat only and upon research, she opted for rabbit instead.
Moleko is the founder of MPBizRabbits farming, which also has has butchery, pop-up store, restaurant and the distribution arm.
The farming venture came as a result of recognising the added benefits of farmed rabbits.
“Rabbit meat was a better option for me, healthwise, because that meat never gets injected (with additives) and is pure, therefore give you all the nutrients needed,” she said.
After years of eating farmed rabbit meat, Moleko took the plunge into starting her own rabbit farming business in the year 2000.
“It’s really been hard for us to penetrate this market simply because of how not-so-popular this type of meat is in South Africa. Being a country that eats a lot of chicken, it is really hard to convert people from their usual ways of eating to this novel idea of rabbit meat.
“But we are slowly introducing this alternative into the market by targeting popular spots like Vilakazi Street,” she said.
“The difficult part about this business is that we do not have any form of funding and have to use our own resources and money to promote the meat. Again, a case of concept in the market that needs to prove its worth before it is backed.”
The business has grown in various provinces like KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, Limpopo, North West and in Vaal, Gauteng.
“We train farmers to be our breeders around us, and in turn they supply us with their meat. We have the market and as business grows, so does the demand.
“By training these farmers, they help us solve our problem of demand while they are empowered with business skills and actual businesses. Something that is invaluable.”
Her company employs six people on a full-time basis who fill in various positions from facilitator to breeders.
Moleko said she worked as a remedial teacher before launching her own consulting practice where she focused on business incubation until the rabbit passion kicked in.
“Even with the rabbit farmers around, existing on a very small scale, we are the only ones using the caged farming rather than free range farming that is popular. Ours is a safer method, it’s more controlled in what they eat.
“I love rabbits for how calm they are, and seeing that I'm a calm person myself, I find such pleasure working with them,” she said.
“Being in a space that is not so popular, there is less pressure and therefore it gives you so much comfort. You learn during the process with no pressure.
“When I started, I remember how I used to cry when I’d have to slaughter them, but now I have the courage to do it without twitching because I've realised that is my source of income.”