Several rice importers, United Commodity Incorporated (UCI), Fouani Brothers, Fouta Corporation and Supplying West Africa Trade Incorporated (SWAT) on Wednesday March 24, told Commerce Ministry officials here that there was no need to panic about the supply of the nation's stable.
The Importers gave the assurances during a tour of their warehouses at the Free Port of Monrovia following speculations that the product would be scarce on the market-something which have triggered panic buying among the population with some retailers increasing the prices.
The speculations prompted Commerce Minister Wilson Tarpeh and his team of inspectors to visit the port and see at first hand the quantity of rice being store at the warehouses of suppliers.
During a tour of the port, this writer along with another viewed security cameras which depicted the offloading of 34 metric tons of rice (i.4 million bags) from the Ocean Falcon which is ducked at the port.
The importers said the supply of rice, Liberia's stable could last between 4 to 6 months, this includes the 1.4 million bags being offloaded and the ones already stockpiled at their warehouses.
The companies jointly imported the current consignment and further dismissed fears that they could eventually run out of supply after the available quantities saying there are some consignments on the way.
The Ware House Manager of Fouta Coorporation, Josiah Grando told journalists that all their ware houses are full with supplies.
Mr. Grandoalso dismissed claims on an increase in the price of the commodity by importers saying "the prices have not change." He said any dealer doing so is bent on exploiting the customers. "We still sell the rice at US$13 per bag to the dealers," he added.
At the Fousni Brothers Ware House, Manager Ali M. Jichi, explained that his company supply on hand could last up till July.
"On that ship, we have a total of 15,000 metric tons of rice that is being offloaded. As you can see, we already had enough in stock before this new product arrived," Jichi narrated.
"Any news that there is no rice in the country is just a mere rumor. I think the people are in a hurry to buy because of the rumors and in the end, they purchase at a very high rate," Jichi explained.
Warehouse managers of both UCI and SWAT repeated similar claims made by Fuouta and Fouani giving the assurance that the country has commodity that can last up to six months.
Earlier Commerce Inspector General Josephine W. A. Davies explained the purpose of the tour to journalist saying that it was intended to show that there are enough of rice supply here and that those who are claiming that the commodity is in short supply are dealers who sole intend is to exploit the Liberian people.