Annual production of meat (domestic and wild meat) in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) covers only 11% of protein food needs of the population. Many people in towns as well as in rural areas can rarely afford to buy meat. This situation induces malnutrition, precarious health, reduced endurance for working, poor resistance to diseases and shortened longevity. Farming Giant Pouched rats (Cricetomys) on a large scale could be a quick and cheap way to enhance the production of meat in the country.
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The present project aims to improve the established cricetoma farming methods and techniques, to adapt that husbandry in different places to improve productivity and to disseminate Cricetomys as a viable alternative minilivestock species in Kinshasa and elsewhere in the DRC. Cricetoma farmers, who are all members of the Association of Wild Animal Farmers (AWAF) group, along with cricetoma farmers in Kinshasa and 3 provinces of DRC at Butembo (Province of Nord-Kivu), Lubumbashi (Province of Katanga) and Luki(Boma) (Province of Bas-Congo) will each receive 200 breeding animals and appropriate cages directly from the project. This first group of farmers will serve as model systems to disseminate the husbandry practices required for Cricetomys production. Employing the revolving-fund system, each of these farmers will give freely half of the offspring of the first two pregnancies, transferring the benefits to a second group of at least 100 new farmers. This agreed passing on of the benefits will thereafter continue indefinitely. This project is being jointly implemented with the AWAF and the Unit√© de Gestion des Ressources Naturelles, Production et Sant√© Animales, D√©partement de Biologie, Facult√© des Sciences, Universit√© de Kinshasa.
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