The Association of Rabbit Meat Producers, Inc. (ARaMP) Rizal Chapter, in collaboration with the Rizal Provincial Veterinary Office, held the 1st Rizal Rabbit Industry Stakeholders’ Forum at the Ground Floor, Capitol Annex, Ynares Center Complex, Antipolo City.

The forum helped participants appreciate opportunities for rabbit meat for health, livelihood and food security. It raised awareness for key development such issuances regarding rabbit meat production and gave recommendations in the areas of research in rabbit sciences.

Alvin Samson – President of ARaMP Rizal Chapter and lead convenor of the forum – conducted the orientation to the Stakeholders’ Forum.

He talked about the state of rabbit industry in Rizal including its profile, promise and path forward. Because of the present economic situation – including rapid devaluation of the peso causing runaway inflation – he said rabbit farming is now a matter of survival.

Dr. Reynaldo Bonita, Head of the Provincial Veterinary Office, confessed that there is a lot that needs to be resolved in the industry.

“Marami pa kailangan iayos sa rabbit industry sa Rizal. Kailangan maisaayos ang production, ang processing at ang marketing. Gusto natin mas masigla ang rabbit industry. Marami talaga rabbit raisers na nagsisimula. Talagang umuusbong na industry ito sa lalawigan ng Rizal,” said Dr. Bonita.

“Dahil sa pandemya naghanap ang tao ng alternative source of income. At nakita nila ang rabbit raising. Sa tulong ng national agencies, mapapalago natin ang rabbit raising industry.”

Lala Gajardo, Department of Agriculture Regional Office Agricultural Productivity Coordinating Officer for Rizal emphasized the importance of long term planning.

“Dapat tayong mag-strategize at magplano para malaman kung anong dapat gawin para palakihin at ma-develop ang rabbit industry. Sana magsama sama at magkaroon ng clustering, lalo na sa production, para ma-strengthen ang rabbit industry sa Rizal. Ang Department of Agriculture susuporta sa inyo para mapalakas ang rabbit industry,” said Gajardo.

Hector Robles, Rizal Provincial Board Member and Chairman Committee on Agriculture and Agrarian Reform emphasized the need for the public to be aware that rabbits are not just pets and that rabbits are also livestock which can be raised for consumption.

“Dati ang alam ko rabbits ay inaalagaan na magaganda. Pero noong nakatikim ako ng roasted rabbit, nalaman ko na ang rabbit masarap pala kainin,” said Robles.

Art Veneration, National President Association of Rabbit Meat Production talked about key developments in the emerging Philippine rabbit industry.

He congratulated the Rizal stakeholders for the forum and for including the different sectors of society, including the academe, media and most important the local government units in the forum.

“Dapat makilala ang grupo para malaman ng government ang mga pangangailangan natin. Important merong harvest facilities. Kailangan ang accredited rabbit slaughterhouse. Madali mag produce ng rabbit pero kailangan ang meat processing sa isang slaughterhouse na ayon sa national standard,” said Veneracion.

Gerald Aranas, Department of Agriculture-Field Operation Service said rabbit farming can be solution to the challenges of the livestock sector because rabbits are easier to raise compared to pigs or chicken.

He said raising rabbits can enjoy more government support if it is the product of the One Town, One Product in towns of Rizal. Also, unlike pork – which is haram or forbidden for consumption by Muslims – rabbit meat is halal.

Kyle Christine Pascual, Trade and Industry Development Specialist (CARP), Business Development Division, Negosyo Center Rizal said DTI can partner and enabler of the Rizal rabbit industry and enumerated the services the government agency can provide and how being accredited will help the industry.

Director Milo delos Reyes, CESE, OIC-RED, DA CALABARZON was also present.

The delegates from the different towns of Rizal brought food and refreshments for sharing.

There was Arroz Calde de Conejo from Antipolo before the start of the forum. Later during lunch Tinolang Kuneho from Teresa, Adobong Kuneho sa Gata, Rabbit Paella, Oven-Roasted Rabbit, Rabbit Igado from Morong, Pakbet with Giniling na Rabbit from Angono, Rabbit Caldereta from Cainta and Rabbit Curry were served at a free buffet table.

Delegates from Baras brought kanin while those from Montalban brought inumin.

After lunch the delegates formed three clusters for workshops. These included (1) Rabbit meat production and processing; (2) Rabbit meat consumption and market development; and (3) Rabbit meat sciences, research and development. There were also booths where premium rabbit meat deli products: hotdogs, sausages and meat loaf were available for sale.