Editorial: Information that the Weah administration is preparing a supplementary budget to allocate US$12 million for rice importers when the country’s entire budget for agriculture is just about US$6 million clearly demonstrates that this administration is paying lip service to food sufficiency in Liberia.
This paper has gathered that the US12 million, which would be in the form of subsidy to importers, is intended to offset extra costs incur during importation and eventually avoid extra charges to consumers. This may sound politically expedient in the short-run but is neither sustainable nor financially prudent.
With elections scheduled for 2023, President Weah and his government are clearly sacrificing rice production here which could lead to self-sufficiency in food for personal political interest hence, subjecting a hungry population to rice politics.
It is highly incomprehensible that a government with a US$5,561,226 annual budget for agriculture, is planning a supplementary budget to allocate US$12 million to subsidize rice importation in the face of fertile soil and a conducive climate for agriculture.
By allotting higher budget for rice subsidy over national agriculture program, what message is the government sending to international partners and friendly governments about the will to feed ourselves.
Should our enviable rain forestry continue to lie in waste while we look up to India, Pakistan, Malaysia and China for our staple food? Have we lost pride as a nation or is this sheer laziness?
Fundamentally, this administration has failed to govern properly by trying to allot US$12 million on quick-fix solutions rather than tackling the key issue of lack of a clear, demonstrative agriculture policy.
Instead of leading by example by cultivating a presidential farm (like slain President Samuel K. Doe) that would encourage or motivate his cabinet and the other two branches of government to invest in the soil, President Weah believes that diverting scarce resources to subsidizing rice importation will make price stable and ensure uninterrupted supplies.
But there is no guarantee that food produced in other countries that may equally face unforeseeable challenges such as climatic changes, political upheavals or natural disasters would always serve our national demand. This could be nothing else other than suicidal illusion.
If the Weah-led government means well for the Liberian people, it should come up with a workable national agriculture policy that would return citizens to the soil to grow rice, the nation’s staple rather than striking deals with importers that are driven by profits. There can be no sustainability because nothing is certain in today’s global trade. https://thenewdawnliberia.com/government-to-pay-us12-million-to-rice-importers/