Local rice producer urges
Mohammed Kamara, a local rice producer, is calling on the Liberian government divert its US$8 million annual subsidy for rice imports to local rice production which, according to him, will be the best way to truly strengthen food security in the country.
Kamara is the chief executive officer of the Agriculture Infrastructure Investment Company (AIIC), and president for the National Rice Federation of Liberia. Speaking to agriculture stakeholders at a rice development conference held in Monrovia, he said there is limited support being provided to rice farmers and processors, making it difficult for the country to meet domestic supply of rice production.
Experts say that the country’s rice sector continues to underperform with the overall yield and production low, compared with other countries in the sub region.
According to Kamara, increasing domestic rice production is key to strengthening Liberia’s economy, and ensuring political stability. He said the increase in rice importation is putting pressure on the country’s trade balance, and foreign exchange which is a possible threat to food security.
“The government must train more farmers and provide them with appropriate inputs and machineries to promote production. There must also be subsidies provided to all actors along the rice value chain,” he said.
Kamara added that rice processors must have access to loans to enable them purchase paddy from farmers that will encourage farmers to increase productivity.
“We are convinced that once the government can use the US$8 million to support local production, the challenges in the sector would be minimized,” he said.
He further said that the legislature needs to work in passing the seed, fertilizers and pesticide policies, which President Weah promised in his last annual address that he would prioritize to move agriculture forward.
Kamara’s organization (AIIC) remains a major contributor to the rice sector, evident by its works with thousands of smallholder farmers in Lofa County through the purchase of paddy and provision of farm inputs to farmers. It functions as a major rice aggregator to farmers, government and institutions.