President George Weah says agriculture has got no substitute in national efforts to obtaining food security and maintaining a healthy population, an Executive Mansion release has said.
Food production towards self-sufficiency, the President said, is a centerpiece of his government's Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development, and he would leave no stone unturned to achieve this goal.
According to the release, the President spoke on Wednesday, December 5, 2018, when he officially launched the distribution of over 200 metric tons of rice, totaling 80,000 bags at the Freeport of Liberia.
Though the public is yet to know the source of the "Pro-Poor rice," the President said his administration is giving ample attention to support and encourage investment in the agriculture sector, particularly the production of food, to reduce reliance on the importation of the country's staple food.
A Liberian-owned company, TRH Trading, in partnership with the government through the Ministry of Commerce, imported an initial consignment of the Pro-Poor rice that will be sold wholesale to Liberian businesses through the Commerce Ministry. The local businesses will in turn do the retail sale.
President Weah said making rice, which is regarded in Liberia as a "political commodity", available and affordable for Liberians, is the preoccupation of his government, and this will be achieved to help reduce the high cost of the country's staple.
"I am very happy that we can begin to distribute this low-cost rice at a time our people need it most in the wake of the festive season," Weah said, adding, "Pro-poor rice, as we call it, is a dream come true. While working to meet the needs of our people; it is important to stress that returning to the soil is the best way forward and we will support this effort as much as possible," the President said.
President Weah and officials looking at the quality of the Pro-Poor Rice
The President noted that the importation of rice has always been a major concern to him and his administration, promising that he would work around the clock to make sure that Liberian businesses play an integral part in food production and other activities that will benefit the citizens and the country.
"I am happy for the supply of the Pro-Poor rice on the market," he said, noting, "We all know rice is very important for our people as it is the staple food. We will do our best to always have it on the market and sold for a price that our people can afford."
He continued, "I know whatever I do, I often do to the best of my ability, aware of the challenges that require focus and practice. And by the grace of God, the best always comes out of whatever I try to do."
President Weah thanked Commerce Minister Wilson Tarpeh and his team for leading the right effort that has stimulated the involvement of Liberian-owned companies in the importation of rice on the market.
This, the President said, has helped in buttressing the supply of rice on the Liberian market.