The New Dawn has categorically established the presence of rotten rice on the local market with many retailers complaining of unfair prices. A female market at the Rally Time Market opposite the Barclay Training Center military barracks told this paper due to the emergence of the damaged rice on the market, the actual price for a bag of rice has criminally reduced because consumers don’t know the difference between the good grades and damaged ones.
“Look, the spoiled rice is taking [over]our market; the other marketers buy [the] rotten rice at cheaper price and then greased it with oil; you who are not in the business will not know whether it is good or not, and then worse of it, the evil covers every one of us”, lamented Miatta Konneh, a retailer at the Rally Town Market.
She said the damaged rice is being sold to marketers by some individuals within the employ of the Supply West Africa Trader or SWAT, said to be one of the main rice importers on the Liberian market since early 2005. Another retailer, who spoke to this paper Ma-Mary Gbah, said the rotten rice is one of the contributing factors to running stomach among kids and elderly people in most communities.
“The regular price of rice is, for example, some of us bought our rice for US$40.00 per a 60Kg beg of the white rice, while they bought theirs US$20.00 per beg. Do you expect the price to be the same, not just possible; this a strong challenge we are faced with”, she lamented.
When the management of SWAT was contacted, the Administrative Assistant, Madam Musu Samuels Henries, admitted that in deed her company is in possession of the damaged rice, but denied reports of selling it to the public.
Madam Henries narrated that a shipment of rice to SWAT-Liberia arrived in the country on August 28, 2011, but due to the rainy season, some of the bags of rice were soaked and got damaged.
She explained that SWAT has officially written the Commerce and Health ministries about the matter, but both ministries are allegedly yet to respond to the communication, something she said is delaying disposal of the rotten rice.
Madam Henries disclosed that her company brought into the country over 12,500 tons of White Rice, but “due to the rain, huge quantity of the rice got damaged and we are hoping to conclude the packaging of the rice soon so that the spoil ones are [disposed of] “, she indicated.