Boom time for rabbit breeders in Uttarakhand

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Tehri (Uttarakhand), Feb 23 (ANI): The breeding of Angora rabbits has become a lucrative option for villagers in Uttarakhand.

"I started out with ten rabbits. I earn around 60,000 to 65, 000 rupees per year," said Gulab Singh, a rabbit breeder.

It helps the villagers, both men and women, to become financially self-reliant.

A single rabbit yields up to a kilogram of wool annually, which fetches at least 750 rupees in the market. And one kilogram of Angora thread gives them 1, 100 rupees.

"We benefit a lot from breeding these rabbits. The young ones of these rabbits fetch us good money.

Then the wool is also beneficial even after the rabbit dies. It is still useful as its skin alone fetches anywhere around 70 to 75 rupees," said Manju Kukreti, another rabbit breeder.

Declining population of sheep in the region forced the villagers to turn to Angora rabbit breeding, when the state rural development ministry launched the Angora wool scheme in March 2002.

The state boasts of 450 units across 35 villages.

Himalayan Institute for Environment, Ecology And Development (HIFEED), the nodal organisation of the State Government helps farmers by providing them with all the technical know-how.

"Rabbits don't require much care and looking after like sheep. Then it gives more wool than sheep. Its wool also fetches good price than sheep's wool," said Kailash Bhatt, manager, HIFEED.

Apart from wool, white rabbit meat is also gradually gaining popularity across the world. Even rabbit skin and its excreta, used as manure, fetch good money for these villagers.

Characterised by nascent and essentially small scale and cottage enterprises, the sector provides employment to a large number of people in the state.

The rearing of rabbits in India, largely for the angora wool and meat, began in the 1960s. India per year produces approximately 25 tons of Angora wool. By Vipul Goel (ANI)

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