To improve rice production as one means of promoting food security in Liberia remains a major concern by every successive government since the end of the civil war (1989-2003). Rice, the country's staple food and a commodity of political proportion, has been imported on a massive scale for many decades. Statistics from the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning shows that Liberia spends close to US$200 million annually to import the commodity to ensure food security for the citizens.
However, the Minister of Agriculture Dr. Mogana S. Flomo believes that, with small steps, the country can embark on a path to self-sufficiency in rice. In a recent engagement with partners, the Minister disclosed that Liberia is expected to reduce rice imports by seven percent this year.
Flomo made the disclosure to stakeholders at a recent one-day meeting hosted in Monrovia with the aim to brainstorm on how to improve agricultural policy for resource allocation. He said the Government of President George Weah is targeting a five-year plan to significantly increase food production.
In the event of meeting the five-year plan, Dr. Flomo said government will give priority to "Communal Farming" to enhance food production across the country, but from a different approach.
Communal farming is a farming strategy where community members are encouraged to participate in a particular agricultural project for the common good of the community people. In Liberia, the practice is being implemented by the Ministry of Internal Affairs in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture. However, such farming strategy has not yielded the desire results over the years due to lack of funding, the Daily Observer has learnt.
Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Mogana S. Flomo.
Although Minister Flomo acknowledged challenges associated with the communal farming system, he assured the public of his ministry's preparedness to address those challenges with a different approach.
"With assistance from international partners, we will mobilize farming communities to engage into variety of crops production as the surest way to promote Communal Farming activities," he said.
"This implies that we will have to work harder to increase rice production," he added.
According to Flomo, the government is committed to make Liberia food secure as evidenced by the President Weah's willingness to support the agricultural sector.
"The President has promised the World that his Government will improve the agriculture sector, because this is what majority of the citizens depend on for their livelihoods," he said.
The Minister also stressed the need for rural communities to get fully involved as international partners are willing to support the country improves food production.