Rice Price Will Be Stable

By: Mark Neywon Mengonfia mmenginfia@gmail.com

MONROVIA In recent days, there has been news of a shortage of Liberia staple (rice) on the market.

Due to the news and knowing that the commodity is a political one, Liberians who have money started buying out of panic that it will finish from the market and their family might not get to eat.

Some citizens, mostly retailers protested demanding that the commodity be available and affordable on the market.

The information reached President George M Weah and his deputies, thus forcing them out of their offices to ascertain “firsthand information” about the news that has been in the public about the rice shortage.

President Weah on April 6, 2022 [one of the infamous days in Liberian history] toured various warehouses at the Freeport of Monrovia to establish if it was true or false that the commodity was short or it was an artificial shortage and hiking of price.

Speaking to reporters during the tour the Liberian leader warned against playing politics out of Liberia’s staple food in the name of politics.

President Weah said there is no rice shortage in the country as evidenced by the stockpile of rice at various warehouses at the Freeport.

The Liberian leader said his administration knows what it takes for the shortage of rice on the market.

Knowing the consequence of the rice shortage, President Weah said his government held a meeting with rice importers two years ago to prevent the hike in the price of rice or the shortage of the product on the Liberian market.

He informed reporters that during the meeting with the importers, they (importers) assured his administration that there will be no scarcity of rice.

He indicated, “Let’s forget politics you may not like me, and I may not like you, but it has nothing to do with the general good of the country. Whether we are opposition or not, this is our country”.

He added, “I came here to see because two years ago, they promised us that there will be no rice shortage. Coming here again, we can see that there is no shortage, but our people have been misinformed. I listened to so many journalists, but what they said is contrary to what we are seeing here.”

President Weah rallied journalists to make sure that the right information is provided to the public.

At first, the importation of rice was done by one importer but when President Weah observed it was causing problems, he opened up the market to many importers so that the commodity cannot go short on the Liberian market.

“Rice is our staple food and if it is the only commodity that will be expensive in this country, we will not allow that”, the Liberian leader intoned.

One thing he assured is the availability and ability and affordability of the product to the citizens’ nothing that measures will be employed to combat the hoarding of the commodity.

“Whether they like it or not, rice price will not go up. If you are a (Commerce) Minister and you are not able to stabilize rice prices, then you are not a Minister. You need to communicate that to our people so they cannot panic”.

History of news of rice shortage in Liberia

In early April 1979, Florence Chenoweth, then Minister of Agriculture, proposed an increase in the price of rice from $22 per 100-pound bag to $26. His justification was that the increase would serve as an added inducement for rice farmers to stay on the land and produce rice as both a subsistence crop and a cash crop, instead of abandoning their farms for jobs in the cities or on the rubber plantations.

However, political opponents criticized the proposal as self-aggrandizement, pointing out that Chenoweth and the family of President William Tolbert operated large rice farms and would therefore realize a tidy profit from the proposed price increase.

The Progressive Alliance of Liberia called for a peaceful demonstration in Monrovia to protest the proposed price increase. On April 14, 1979, about 2,000 activists began what was planned as a peaceful march on the Executive Mansion. The protest march swelled dramatically when the protesters were joined en route by more than 10,000 “back street boys,” causing the march to quickly degenerate into a disorderly mob of riot and destruction.

Since the above occurrence in Liberia, presidents of the country have always found means to ensure that the commodity is not short on the market for they know the aftermath if there is no rice.

In is in this direction of President Weah and his team is making efforts that the situation does not escalate to something different that could cause instability in the country that has over the years enjoyed relative stability.


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