EDITORIALThe Rice Saga Is Worrisome

With all sincerity, the government must act now and do it very quickly and put an immediate halt to the back and fro puzzling alarm regarding ‘the rice shortage in the country.  We saw in recent times the warehouses are stuffed and heavily loaded with the commodities and there is no need for panic.

In any understanding, and bringing the puzzle outside of the box, let the government be soberly mindful that this month is the same April. Rice, from the lesson, learned the hard and bitter way, clearly and practically established that the commodity (rice) is just not the nation’s staple (food), but a very serious ‘political commodity’ and can reflect a toxic atmosphere when the news about its shortage hits the country.

Quite frankly, the simmering story recently about rice shortage led some rice vendors (mainly women) to set up roadblocks in the Clara Town belt in demand of being allowed to purchase rice from the wholesale dealers who were allegedly hoarding the item as a bargaining trump card for government to re-visit the tariff on the importation of rice or would sell it a little higher than the specified selling price, is worrisome.

Despite President George M. Weah’s recent parading and inspection of several rice warehouses at the Freeport of Monrovia, and saw the latter being parked with rice, thereby and informing the people that there is no shortage of rice in the country rather there’s enough of the commodity to last for several months, the selling price for a 25kg bag of rice is being sold from LD2500 to more than LD3000 with a retail cup of rice in the Ambush Community is LD100.

This is no time that the government should take the people for a ride when it comes to this business called rice; as the people are saying that there is no joke in a snake’s mouth; and April 14, 1979 did not occupy in the history of this nation just to fill up space, instead that dreadful page in the history of this country is a sober reminder to the leaders that rice is not only a staple but most importantly, a very politically charged commodity which must be handled seriously like a broken fruit cake before its alleged shortage creates a toxic atmosphere as was the case of April 14, 1979.

This is no time to play hide-and-seek with rice, moreover to cry wolf, because the government must be told in clear term that business is business, and Christmas is Christmas; however, the worst-case scenario is to combine the chemistry of both business and Christmas; for sure, it will not spell well for the people’s expectation.

We urge the government to match fact with vivid reality; that indeed, there is no rice shortage in the country and it must be glaring on the market and in the reduction of price(s) both by wholesale dealers and retail sellers; and that above all else, it must be available and assessable without hustling and craving on bended knees, just to lay at least a hand on a little quantity with sky rocking price.

Over the past times the government has been subsidizing rice importation. This is the time for such subsidy to continue. Frankly speaking, the rice importers need to make some level of profit too.  If you take a survey in the region on the sale of rice, you will know that  Liberia has one of the cheapest prices.

That is why many business people leave from neighboring countries to come to purchase huge quantities of rice for onwards transportation and subsequent sale. They rather make more money at the expense of Liberia’s rice importers who pay taxes to the government. So, it is about time for the government to step up its efforts in subsidizing rice importation.

Time to speak the plain truth to the people about this rice saga about what is lingering in the way that’s brewing such a panic and gradually could lead to mistrust.

Since as a nation we cannot feed ourselves but have to rely on the efforts of farmers from Asia America and other places, we must do everything possible to find a solution to this rice issue.

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