THE Department of Agriculture (DA) said it issued rules for importing rabbits which are designed to minimize the spread of animal diseases cross borders.

In a memorandum circular, the department said it “recognizes the increasing interest of many Filipino farmers in raising rabbits for meat production due to the ease in propagation and minimal production costs.”

The rules require accreditation as a live-rabbit importer from the Bureau of Animal Industry-National Veterinary Quarantine Services Division.

Importers will also need to be registered with the Department of Trade and Industry and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Rabbit farms, including livestock transport vehicles, must be accredited while proposed quarantine sites are subject to inspection.

“The growing awareness and local acceptance of rabbit meat as an alternative protein source amid the rising prices of major livestock commodities such as pork and poultry meat have ignited a subsequent increase in the Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Import Clearance request for meat-type rabbit breeds,” it added.

“The proposed quarantine site must have sufficient cages and ventilation. It should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected before the arrival of the imported rabbits. There shall also be no other animals other than the rabbits to be imported,” the circular read.

Only the products of certified rabbit farms and authorized exporters endorsed by the source country will be accepted. Any applicant intending to import rabbits must also apply for SPS import clearance. — Luisa Maria Jacinta C. Jocson