The Japanese Government has donated over 8,060 Metric tons of rice to the Liberian Government through the Ministry of Commerce and Industry and the Agriculture Ministry. The rice, according to Commerce Minister Axel Addy, is to be sold and proceeds used by the government to improve the livelihood of farmers and citizens as a whole.
The donation by the Japanese Government shows another great commitment and continued support that they have made thus far.
It can be recalled that recently Japan and Liberia signed a Non-Project Grant Aid valued at 4.2 Million United States Dollars for economic and social development.
Presenting the rice to Government yesterday, Japan Ambassador to Liberia, Kaoru Yoshimura said “I am happy to today to hand over the 5th Kennedy Round (KR) food aid weighed 8,060 metric tons of rice to the Government today.”
The KR is grant aid provided to developing countries with food shortages for the purpose of buying rice, wheat, maize or other grains.
Based on the food aid rules of the International Grain Agreement, which came into effect as part of the Kennedy Round (KR) at the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) in 1967, it began in 1968 and is referred to as "KR" because it came out of the Kennedy Round.
He said that the donation is to ensure that Liberian get access to health, sufficient and safe food as well as the implementation of projects that will ensure self-reliance in the production of food to achieve food security in Liberia.
“The KR food aid donation is materialized as a result of an agreement between the two Governments for the grant of five hundred and ten million Japanese Yen towards the implementation of the food assistant project by the Government of Liberia in November 2013,” said Ambassador Yoshimura.
According to him, after few months of hard work on the part of the both governments, “We are finally witnessing the realization of this agreement today and I would like to especially thank the Ministry of Commerce and other related ministries in the country.”
Ambassador Yoshimura indicated that the handover ceremony is not the end of the aid, rather the beginning of new development projects but Japan will always remain a true partner to Liberia.
“After handling this rice over, the Liberian Government will sell the rice in the market and utilize the proceeds for socio-economic projects which are called counterparts funds projects,” he said.
The Japanese Ambassador said that the achievement of the food security is the principle of Japan’s development assistance to Liberia.
He said his Government will therefore put a lot of effort into working with Liberia and other organizations across the world to achieve food security. "Where there is food insecurity," he said, there is starvation and fear as well as an environment where people are unable to demonstrate their maximum potential for growth and development."
He disclosed that Japan is currently supporting the World Food Program (WFP) food program for vulnerable groups in the country with a grant amount of approximately US$2,837,000.
Receiving the rice on behalf of the Liberian Government, Commerce Minister Axel Addy commended the people of Japan for their tireless efforts and support to the Liberian economy.
Minister Addy disclosed that the rice donation is not the first as other donations include the construction of bridges as well as assistance with the Mount Coffee Hydro project.
“It is a pleasure today to receive another food aid from the government of Japan, this has been a long standing program. Today we have FOUTA, United Commodities Industry (UCI) and all of them are rice importers; all we can say to them is to purchase the rice so that our farmers can be empowered,” he urged.
The Commerce Minister then pleaded with consumers to swiftly purchase the rice, which he said will help finance other projects that will empower local farmers in the country.
“It’s important that we consumers buy the rice so that local farmers can be empowered and today we can boast that the farmers are empowered through the continued purchasing of rice,” he said.
For her part, Agriculture Minister Dr. Florence Chenoweth thanked Japan for the assistance, saying that the impact of the program supports the whole cycle of rice production in Liberia. She noted that though Ebola took away almost everything, the full cycle of support from the Japanese Government must be commended.
"However, we will ensure that farmers benefit from the donation," she said.