Stakeholders in the agricultural sector of Liberia have been urged to prioritize the consumption of locally produced rice for all organized workshops and programs across the country.
The Executive Director of the Community of Hope Agriculture Project (CHAP), Bishop Robert Bimba, made the call in an exclusive interview with the Daily Observer newspaper over the weekend.
Bimba said for so long the consumption of imported rice has been prioritized over local rice for major events hosted by the country’s agricultural stakeholders, which according to him is impeding the incomes of smallholder rice farmers.
He said that priority for the consumption of local rice by institutions is going to create more market opportunities for smallholder rice farmers to improve income generation.
[At] many workshops and programs being held in Monrovia and the rural parts of the country, organized and implemented by the stakeholders, imported rice is most often being served over local rice.
The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs 17) 2017 Zero Hunger Strategic Review Report on Liberia sets as a priority the purchase and consumption of home grown produce, eddoes, cassava, rice etc by institutions to ensure market opportunities for smallholder farmers. However, such a recommendation of the report is yet to be taken seriously by the stakeholders.
The CHAP Executive Director’s concerns come following his organization signing an agreement with Concern Worldwide to supply the entity with locally produced rice for its workshops and programs.
Concern Worldwide, an international organization that has worked in the sector since the end of the civil crisis, has committed itself to the purchase and consumption of local rice, going forward, at all workshops and programs they intend to implement.
Ciara Begley, Country Director of Concern Worldwide said, “We endorsed the consumption of domestic and homegrown rice for all our training, workshops and programs in Liberia henceforth. There is going to be no more imported rice served.”
Bimba said that his institution wholeheartedly welcomed the decision of Concern Worldwide and would like to see other institutions in the sector using the approach.
“This is welcoming news and we call on others to adapt this in support of lifting the farmers from poverty. We pledged to supply Concern Worldwide service providers with home grown rice,” he informed the Daily Observer Newspaper recently in an exclusive interview.
The consumption of home grown rice otherwise known as local rice still remains a challenge for the nation’s population, particularly in the urban communities. Imported rice is termed to dominate the country citizens’ taste of preference, despite the level of improvement in the quality of local rice over the years. Currently, there are local rice processors who are now producing quality parboiled rice for the market. However, domestic production of the commodity is still low, something that the government is now striving to improve upon.
Bimba’s organization is the champion of the Love Liberian Rice Campaign. The campaign which was launched a few years ago seeks to encourage Liberians to buy and consume more local rice.
CHAP is also implementing the Scaling up Climate Resilient Rice Production in West Africa (RICOWAS) project. RICOWAS is a 4 years regional rice program that aims to support smallholder rice farmers to scale up the production of rice. The project which is financed by the Adaptation Fund and supported by the Observatoire Du Sahara Observatory is also designed to support the media in communication and advocacy.
Meanwhile, the call for the purchase and consumption of locally produced rice by Liberians has also been echoed in recent times by ECOWAS Ambassador to Liberia, Josephine Nkrumah.
Ambassador Nkrumah has proposed a national awareness on the consumption of locally produced rice for the Liberian public.