The opposition Liberian People Party (LPP) has challenged the government to strategize ways to address the country’s rice problems amid growing concerns of huge rice importation.
The party in a release wonders if Liberia can reduce the perennial shortage of rice by educating the citizens to prioritize more consumption of other local food like cassava and other crops as well as by investing more in the purchase of locally produced food to supply hospitals, prisons, employees, schools and other functions.
The party believes that such measures when applicable will help the country reduce its dependence on imported rice and ensure the stable supply of the commodity. It can be recalled that a similar recommendation emanated from the 2017 National Zero Hunger Strategic Review Report, but the government is yet to take concrete action on the recommendation. Media reports indicate that Liberia still spends US$ 200 million annually to import rice in order to ensure food security for its citizens.
Recently, there has been a report of alleged rice shortage in the traditional and social media. One of Liberia’s newspapers, the Independent, on September 6, 2021, commenting on the alleged shortage of rice, under the title “Shortage or Hoarding,” stated that “…rice became a “political commodity on April 14, 1979 (protest demonstration),” which led to the killing of over 100 persons.
The LPP said that its recommendation does not in no way discourage the attention to the production of rice by Liberian farmers. “LPP is not abandoning the idea to increase rice production, however, the country’s records indicate that producing is a tall order,” the release said.
The Party recalled that in the seventies, Liberia established the Agricultural College to increase skilled manpower in agriculture and later established the Agricultural Development Bank which helped to boost production. However, according to LPP during that time many farmers borrowed money to grow cash crops.