EDITORIAL: Global Rice Issue Is Terrifying

Did Liberia’s governance authorities did not see the scaring quandary of rice shortage and by extension food insecurity coming? Knowing that the commodity (rice) is not only the staple for the people which is, and be politically charged,  terrifying panic without a second thought, overwhelms the entire country.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has predicted that there will be several rice shortages in 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 it 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$ 25 billion this year alone. This has put about 1.7 billion people at risk in the future and Liberia is no expectation to it.

Quite frankly, it will be illogical and unthinkable, let alone outrageous, to now begin to conclude that the crunch of imported rice is severely bordered on the current conflict (war) between Russia and Ukraine due to Russia’s invasion of the latter (Ukraine) with Ukraine being one of the largest global producers of fertilizers of which many farmers are also feeling the pinch; one would wonder what is the existence, significance and statutory mandate to the collective and inclusive growth and development of the country?

 Interestingly, history has made it no secret rather has taught us as a country and people the hard and bitter (rice riot of April 14, 1979) way for the lackadaisical culture adopted in ensuring that we ought to take the growing of our staple at home for protective reason coupled with futuristic unforeseeable global development, obstacles or uneasiness in the counties involved with growing and exporting rice that we (Liberians) heavily consumed on total commercial altar of dependability.

Besides two late presidents, William R. Tolbert and Samuel K. Doe who demonstrated a vested interest in farming with an emphasis on the home-based growing of our staple and other traditional agricultural products, the structure dubbed: Ministry of Agriculture has been a misplaced child of the country in the struggle and challenge in ensuring food security for the country and people.

Realistically, Liberia was not like this, it has for a long time in the past been sell-sufficient and self-reliance in food production with almost all agricultural commodities featured profoundly; such were the days when farmers found great pleasure to work their farms with high yields and profitable income thus rendering them self-independent to sustain their livelihoods. However, all is not lost since the wisdom of knowledge is to ply the new mat on the old mat; indeed, the format is still with us as a people and country.

Now that the global rice issue has sounded a very serious wake-up bell and a grave warning shot, without hesitation, Liberia must begin to heavily invest in rice production at home. The government must do without an inch of delay; and if it is true to such commitment, the controversial subsidy paid out to rice importers will pause thereby enabling the government to save US$60m annually allotted as a subsidy which could be used as an increment to buttressing the investment in the production of rice at home.

Make no mistake, the writing is vivid on the wall, it’s no joke; it reflects the sign of greater things to come, and if we fail to run while the sun is hot; with God’s grace and mercy showered upon us beginning with rich and fertile soil, appropriate climate to meaningfully stimulate growth to realize a bountiful harvests we must utilize the such glorious opportunity by openheartedly investing in the growth of the rice project before we’re caught with our pants down amidst the looming global rice issue becoming unpredictable.

A hint; if you are wise then be advised.

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