LOCAL RICE, NOT LOCAL RIOT

The government of Liberia has increased the price of rice. Liberia continues to import at least two thirds of the locally consumed rice, meaning that rice price is influenced by the price of the imported rice. Most of the 5% broken rice in Liberia is imported from India, a country that exports at least 40% of the world’s 5% broken rice. Due to the imposition of a 24% increase in the export tariff on exported rice by the government of India, the price of exported rice was increased from USD550 a metric ton to USD560 a metric ton. Therefore, the local rice price was increased again, thereby generating more poverty, as the cost of living has risen.

By Dr. Togba-Nah Tipoteh, contributing writer

On April 14, 1979, the Minister of Agriculture of Liberia, Dr. Florence Chenoweth, proposed a price of rice increase from USD22 a 100 pounds bag to USD26 a 100 pounds bag. The Progressive Alliance of Liberia (PAL) Leader, Mr. Gabriel Baccus Matthews, announced that rice could be imported for USD12 per a 100-pound bag. Then he, Matthews, announced that there would be a PAL demonstration against the rice price increase proposal. The Movement for Justice in Liberia (MOJA) advised PAL not to demonstrate in the streets but demonstrate in the Court by taking the government to Court. But PAL disagreed.

Then, an Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) officer shot and killed an unarmed civilian bystander near the Defense Department on Benson and Buchanan Streets. From there, the Police of Liberia, led by its Director, went to the PAL National Headquarters on Gurley Street and shot and killed some PAL unarmed members, less than fifty of them unarmed had assembled at the Gurley Street PAL Headquarters. The news of the Police shooting killings spread widely and such led to fear and looting, now called the rice riots. The riots were started by the people who ran because of their fears and the looting of the stores in Monrovia. Up to today, the government and the media continue to refer wrongly to the PAL planned demonstration as the rice riots caused by PAL. Although PAL planned to demonstrate, PAL did not demonstrate, as they were assembled at the PAL Headquarters, where some of their members were killed by the National Police. The government of Liberia continues to report that less than sixty persons were killed but nearly 200 bodies were taken to the JFK Hospital, as reported by two Liberian Medical Doctors. Also, over two hundred dead bodies were observed publicly taken out of Monrovia and buried in a mass grave.

After more than sixty-four years since the rice uprising, the government of Liberia continues to increase the price of rice, Liberia’s staple food. In the midst of the importation of nearly USD300,000 million worth of rice annually. The FrontPage Africa newspaper published a research result a week ago stating that nine out of ten Liberian subsistence farmers want to migrate to some foreign countries because of the negative consequences of climate change.

This desire for migration is taking place when over three thousand Africans have been killed by drowning at sea in attempts at migration.

Through this Commentary series. information has come out to the effect that swamp rice farming in Liberia can eliminate poverty generation and generate poverty alleviation. This information has indicated that Liberia has plenty of swamps that can produce rice at least every four months instead of the dominant upland rice with one harvest a year. In a harvest with one acre, there can be rice that can generate LD7,000,000, meaning that a swamp rice farm can generate LD21,000,000 annually. This means that Liberia has the possibility of increasing rice production, lowering the price of rice, reducing rice importation, increasing local ownership of production, raising local education and training, increasing local employment. raising income generation and generating poverty alleviation, thereby eliminating poverty as the pretext for violence.

But rice price reduction is not taking place because of the greed of the powers that be. This is bad news. The good news is that the people who love Liberia are continuing to raise awareness that is motivating the people of Liberia to take actions within the Rule of Law to transform the prevailing unfair electoral system into the enduring fair electoral system. It is only through this transformation that persons with good records can get elected to bring in the system of Justice, the indispensable ingredient for Peace and Progress in Liberia and in any other country.

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