Minister J. Alexander Nuetah

Liberia Calls for Sustainable Approach to Rice Production with International Support

Monrovia, June 13, 2024 - In a significant push towards agricultural independence, Agriculture Minister Dr. J. Alexander Nuetah has appealed to international partners to shift their focus from temporary aid, such as rice donations, to long-term support to boost rice production in the country. This support is not just crucial but a pressing necessity in realizing Liberia’s ambitious National Agriculture Development Plan (NADP), a beacon of hope that aims to strengthen the agriculture sector, achieve self-sufficiency in food production, and, most importantly, cut down the nation’s dependence on the importation of rice, a critical commodity.

“The President of this country has made it clear that we need to reduce our dependency on the importation and the external supply of rice to expand production domestically so that we become self-sufficient. This is why we are asking our major partners to scale up support and move beyond experiments in the field,” Dr. Nuetah pointed out during a meeting with international partners at the ministry.

Like many African countries, Liberia has long struggled with food insecurity and relied heavily on external assistance to meet its food needs. The country's reliance on rice imports has been a longstanding challenge, as evidenced by the 70% importation of its staple food, rice.

The Agriculture Minister emphasized the importance of transitioning from short-term aid initiatives to sustainable interventions that empower Liberia to enhance its agricultural capabilities. He called for collaborative efforts, stressing that it is through the support of international partners that the country can develop its rice production infrastructure, improve farming techniques, and enhance agricultural productivity.

“We would be happy if international partners would focus on supporting smallholder farmers based on land size, not just putting them into groups, but investing in the infrastructure that supports rice production at a larger scale. This would involve linking them with commercialization facilities like processing mills and developing marketing strategies to help put rice on the market for consumption. We would also appreciate having improved technology that would lead to improved yields of our local varieties, thereby increasing farmers' output,” the Agriculture Minister added.

The Minister's appeal underscores the potential benefits of fostering self-reliance and sustainability in rice production. Liberia’s self-sufficiency in rice production can ensure food security and economic growth, create employment opportunities, and alleviate poverty. By adopting a long-term perspective and investing in initiatives that promote self-sufficiency, international partners can contribute to a more resilient and prosperous future for the country.