It is one of those stories that few farmers talk about. But, believe it or not, farmers using rabbit urine in production of their food are now saving on pesticide and fertiliser costs as the liquid offer major nutrients required by crops. It is a secret that you should know.
Actually, organic fertiliser companies and a few rabbit farmers are turning the urine into a business venture and they are making money out of it.
The cost of raw rabbit urine is between Sh400 and Sh500 per litre, according to Brian Otwori, a former Kisii University Animal Production student.
But companies that have packaged the urine sell it at Sh600 to Sh800 per half a litre.
Brian Otwori. the time rabbit farmer says the urine business is more rewarding besides being a remedy for mineral deficiency in soils and a killer of crop pest.
“Urine has high levels of nitrogen. Nitrogen is a key element in healthy leaf formation. This makes it an appropriate folia boosting fertiliser. Because of the concentration of the compounds in the urine, the liquid also kills crop pests like aphids,” he said.
Aphids, mites, leaf miners and other pests drain crop sap in search of nutrients. On heavy infestation, the crops suffer from malnutrition as they discolourise. The leaves also shrink, effectively reducing the much needed surface area for food generation or photosynthesis.
During his third and fourth years at the university, Otwori was the manager of the rabbit section which had more than 200 rabbits. Here, they harvested urine for crops.
Most farmers say that rearing rabbits for urine – if one has a constant market for the product – is more profitable than selling the animal for meat.
For the rabbits, which he rears at his Kebirigo, Kenyerere home, he sells a mature one at between Sh300 and Sh500 – depending on the weight.
But the same rabbit in a month can give three litres of urine, which if sold at Sh500 per litres could earn Sh1,500.
“Even if one does not have a market for the urine, they can use it in crop production. It will save them on fertilisers and pesticides.
According to the Permaculture Research Institute, the urine has to be diluted with water in the ratio of 1:15.
Application has to be done around the roots, the institute recommends.
The institute’s analysis shows that 5 per cent of urine contains nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium and other micro elements.
The content of the elements would vary depending on the diet.
The research institute says one person can release nitrogen enough for application on a 300-400m2 at an application rate of 50-100kg per ha.