In order to address Venezuela’s crippling food shortage, the nation’s President Nicola Maduro has unveiled a plan to popularize rabbit as a source of food.
Despite having world's largest proven oil deposits, many Venezuelans have lived in abject poverty. The former President, Hugo Chavez, was in office from 1999 to 2013. In that period, billions of dollars were spent in generous social programs. After his death, his successor, Nicolas Maduro took office. There has been a rise in inflation and a shortage of basic goods. A drop in the oil prices had added to the administration’s problems.
From 2014, there have been recurrent protests against the government because of many of these issues. Detractors blame the current economic policies for the crisis. People are also disillusioned by the high level of urban violence prevalent in the nation. The protests and violent outbreaks increased in 2017. As of May 2017, there have been 120 deaths due to violence in the rallies.
The nation’s economy has become increasingly unstable and there is hyperinflation in the region. In August 2017, CNN reported that 3,164 Bolivars was equivalent to $1. This is a problem because private banks let Venezuelans withdraw 30,000 bolivars ($2.88) from an ATM at a time.
The hospitals in the country are running out of medicines and they are unable to treat those admitted. A recent study revealed that at least 93% of Venezuelans cannot afford to buy enough food. The study also stated that 73% of the population have lost weight in 2017 alone. Reports note that people have taken to scavenging through trash.
In order to combat the growing problem, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has unveiled an unusual strategy— Plan Conejo, or "Plan Rabbit." He’s hoping that this plan will help bring some reprieve to the country’s 30 million residents.
Speaking about the plan, the country’s Urban Agriculture Minister, Freddy Bernal noted, “There is a cultural problem because we have been taught that rabbits are cute pets. A rabbit is not a pet; it’s two and a half kilos of meat that is high in protein, with no cholesterol.” Maduro believes that since rabbits breed easily, they will be able to provide reprieve to much of the population. He said that the first batch of rabbits have already been distributed to a few communities as part of a pilot project.
However, there is a cultural problem that exists. Even though rabbit is eaten as meat is some cultures across the world, it is not part of the staple diet in Venezuela. As Bernal conceded, the animal is viewed as a pet and hence it would be hard for people to adapt to viewing it as meat.
Our assessment is that even though “Plan Rabbit” is a unique idea to combat hunger in Venezuela, it is highly unlikely that it will solve the nation’s shortages. The economy is on a free fall. Unless the government is able to come up with key policies to address hyperinflation and its consequences, Plan Rabbit will be nothing more than a band-aid over a bullet wound.