The crisis of rising pork prices has predominantly been focused up north, in Metro Manila particularly. Much light has been shown on vendors there undertaking “pork holidays” due to not making much between the high prices from wholesalers and government-mandated price ceilings. But this price problem is also repeating across the country, even in SOCCSKSARGEN which recently shipped live hogs for the slaughter in MM. One noted option for some entrepreneurs was going for alternative meats to pork. Rabbit meat has been fancied as a possible choice, and in South Cotabato the beginnings of a rabbit-meat industry are taking root.

Minda News has it that the farming of rabbits for their meat is gaining traction in South Cotabato, primarily around the Lake Sebu area. There, the Soccsksargen Rabbit Raisers Association (SRRA) has been recently formed, with the objective of introducing rabbit meat as a new staple food for the dining table as regular meat like pork continues to ratchet its prices upward. SRRA president Virginia Compañero gave a short statement last week on Thursday, February 18, regarding facts about rabbits and raising them for meat.

Compañero emphasizes that there are two classifications for rabbits, between those good for keeping as pets and those with meat that is good for consumption. While the SRRA is currently working with existing breeds such as the Local New Zealand and the California White rabbit varieties, they are taking initial steps in breeding specimens to create an upgraded rabbit breed with greater optimal qualities for eating: 3 kilos live weight per rabbit, and ready for slaughter in three to four months after birth. The Local New Zealand and California White mentioned above are considered ready at 5-6 months with 2 kilos live weight. Upon dressing however, the average meat per rabbit is only 1.2-1.3 kilos.

According to the SRRA, the price of rabbit meat in SOCCSKSARGEN is P450 per kilo. It is pricey enough on its own, but considering how the price per kilo for the best cut of pork, the liempo, is already nearing P300, there will almost be no difference. Concerns over African Swine Fever (ASF) have been the driving cause for the pork price hikes. Here in Region 12, the Department of Agriculture regional director Arlan Mangelen has instituted price ceilings under P200/kilo, but on average, premium cuts are already selling at around P250/kilo at roadside shops.

The push for rabbit meat as an alternative has also gotten a nod from Agriculture Secretary William Dar. And as Virginia Compañero puts it, rabbit meat has higher protein and lower fat and cholesterol compared to pork and even chicken.

Image from Cebu Daily News

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