Case Studies

Aika, Get Into (Rabbitry)

16th May 2024

Aika breeds rabbits in her backyard in Barbados. She is a passionate advocate of small-scale farming as a means to fight hunger, especially as food prices soar.

‘I run Kaia’s Rabbitry. It’s a work in progress to bring different meat products to Barbados,’ says Aika, 22. In a context of rising food prices, she’s passionate about the nutritional benefits of rabbit meat – a lean, healthy and sustainable protein – as an alternative to other meats such as chicken and beef.

‘People notice that we’re strapped for food, everything is getting more expensive,’ Aika explains. ‘I honestly hate to see persons go hungry and I just want to share with persons. I want to be able to feed persons.’

As she gradually builds up her backyard business, the animal husbandry skills and commercial knowledge that Aika developed on the Get Into Rabbitry programme are proving crucial.

Resilience and records

‘Before the programme it was really struggling,’ Aika says of her rabbitry. ‘I did agriculture at polytechnic but I did my job placement with goats. I didn’t really have much hands-on experience with rabbits. I knew the theory but not the practice.’

Aika’s first attempts to set up her farm were beset by difficulties, and most of her rabbits succumbed to heatstroke or illness. Discouraged but determined, Aika signed up to the six-week Get Into Rabbitry programme – and started again.

‘Now I’m taking the time to rebuild properly,’ she says. ‘The most useful things I’ve learned have been around managing the rabbits properly, and record keeping. I write down when everything has to happen,’ she explains.

Designed by Prince’s Trust International, the Get Into programme is an introductory sector-specific training course for young people, equipping them to kickstart their careers in particular industries. In Barbados, where it is delivered through the Ministry for Youth, Sports and Community Empowerment, the programme is developing a particular focus on farming. Get Into Rabbitry was the first specialist agriculture course.

Hands-on learning

Aika highlights how the farm visit and practical demonstrations helped build her technical understanding on issues ranging from food types to breeding nests, while the exposure to supermarket buyers opened her eyes to the regulatory framework for commercial sales.

‘We got such in-depth explanations and hands-on situations. It was so educational,’ she recalls. ‘It was good to learn from people with specific experience of a rabbit farm.’

Aika is a passionate advocate of small-scale farming as a way to fight hunger. She particularly values the way the programme connected her with wider farming networks, such as the Youth Farmers of Barbados. Now, as she builds up her own farm, she’s keen to encourage others to give it a try too.

‘I’d like a lot of persons to say we can start farming. Not just rabbits, any farming. You might say land is scarce in Barbados but food is more scarce,’ she explains. ‘If you’ve got just a little space you can raise all the meat you need. If you repeat and recycle it can last you a very long time – you just need to get up and do it.’

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