Global Rice Shortage Looms

-FAO Predicts; Sharp Increase Of US$25billion For Price Of Food Import

MONROVIA-The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has predicted that there will be several rice shortage 2023 if the current war in Ukraine and Russia continues. The prediction was made by a Chief Economist at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Maximo Torero Cullen predicted recently.

 With such a prediction, it means that Liberians will have to brace themselves come 2023, since rice is the nation’s staple food.

His prediction was made in an interview with the Finance and Development journal, a quarterly bulletin by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).  His prediction was based on the current war in Ukraine and Russia; the two countries play a major role in the production of fertilizer and wheat.

Already, the fertilizer supply shortage has gone up which has affected a sharp increase in the price of food imports for most vulnerable countries by more than US$25billion this year alone. This has put about 1.7billion people at risk in the future and Liberia is no expectation to it.

He was quoted as saying that: “If the war continues in 2022 and 2023, we could potentially have a food access problem coupled with a food availability problem, because Ukraine and Russia will further reduce their exports, including fertilizer. This is a situation we have to avoid,” he cautioned.

The war has exacerbated the already-existing problem of a global food crisis, as it stopped exports from two key exporters of cereals.

Around 50 countries depend on these two exporters for at least 30 percent of their cereal imports. For about 20 of these countries, it is more than 50 percent.

According to him, another factor is that Russia is the world’s leading exporter of nitrogen, as well as the second-largest exporter of potassium and a third of phosphorus fertilizer. So when it halted the export of fertilizer, prices shot up – and since they were already high before the war, this has created a significant problem for farmers.

His prediction comes at a time when the Liberian government last week increased the wholesale price of rice to US$17.00. The current retail price now stands at US$17.50

 Liberia is among the countries in Africa that imports rice.

“In the case of Africa, the key net food importers are northern African countries – more than 50 percent of their wheat imports come from Russia and Ukraine. However, sub-Saharan Africa is different as it does not have wheat as the main staple, he was quoted as saying.

This prediction from the FAO, some Liberians are calling on the government to invest in farming, especially mechanized farming.

“We think this is good news for us. This will make us to find way to grow our own food. If you cannot get food, you will be forced to farm. But the most important one is for us to get food. Once food is available, we will purchase it,” Daniel S. Kollie, a petty trader in Red light said. He added: “government must now see ways to support Liberia Business Association (LIBA) so that they can empower local businesses to start food production at different levels.”

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