Despite a slowdown in food importation characterized by speculation of looming food shortage due to the spread of the Corona Virus pandemic, Liberia’s Minister of Agriculture Jeanine Cooper, assures the country has enough food items in stock for up to August, 2020.
Addressing a news conference in Monrovia over the weekend, she acknowledged there’s fear that food shortage could hit the country in the soonest possible time, taking to account countries that supply Liberia with food items, including rice, chicken, flour and other food stuffs are locking all ports, meaning they will not export food here.
However, Minister Cooper noted that Liberia has about 250,000 metric tons of rice and little over 723,000 metric tons of cassava for purchase which the government is considering to purchase, process and store for the bad days, if there will be any.
She said, Liberia has all it takes to produce more food and become a food producing nation.
“The production of rice and cassava will start at the beginning of the dry season. Our country is rich for agriculture purposes. We’re encouraging our farmers to engage in making farms even if it requires using facemask, while cultivating the farmland, they must do it. Countries that supplying us with food especially, like India and China, they are facing the Corona Virus heat which means, their respective governments are locking down all exportation. Meaning we are to get prepared ahead of time.”
Minister Cooper, an experienced farmer from the private sector, was appointed in January by President George Manneh Weah to take over the agriculture sector.
She advised Liberians and the government to start cultivation in order to fill the gap that maybe created by COVID-19 continuous spread throughout the world.
She said government is considering to process rice, cassava and other food items for storage just in case the virus continues to spread and stall importation of food commodities.
Madam Cooper maintained that farmers are key players in the fight against the virus not just health workers because food is always needed for all even patients, health workers and everyone.
She disclosed that Firestone-Liberia has stopped buying rubber from local farmers here since March this year because exportation of rubber latex abroad have ceased due to the coronavirus. By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor-Editing by Jonathan Browne