Minister Chenoweth said Liberia has made considerable progress in seed rice multiplication and production over the years with unflinching support from Japan, through its food aid program to the country. “Liberian is now sufficient in seed rice,” Chenoweth said last Thursday when Japan handed over 10,000 metric tons of rice to Liberia.
Japan has been providing food aid to Liberia for the last three years. The Commerce Ministry monetizes the food aid and the fund deposited in a joint Liberia-Japan Counterpart Fund and used to support development projects at the Liberian government's choosing.
Funds for the last two donations have been used to empower local farmers under the auspices of the Ministry of Agriculture. The paddy seed rice crop multiplication program has empowered many farmers with new farming technologies and verity of seed rice production, among others.
“The Japanese go even further; they provide the money through this program for us to multiply the seeds…to the point where our country, with their support and the government's support, is now self-sufficient in seeds; we don't buy seed rice from anybody any more,” the Minister declared.
She said “when you hear us make an announcement that the value price of rice from our small farmers all around the country is this amount…it is because of the Japanese food aid.”
Chenoweth said “there is money to be made in agriculture. Our small farmers who are producing rice can sell rice—the paddy—20USD per KG and is all supported by the Japanese rice fund. And what that does for our country? It has improved more small farmers—under very difficult conditions working with cutlasses and hoes and diggers to go into the fields and to produce enough rice to feed our children in school, over 1,200 schools with the rice the produce locally.”
The Agriculture Minister noted that the local farmers are producing variety of rice brought to Africa by the Japanese including the fast growing “Narika in large number of variety”.
Small farmers are now using the correct labeling and numbering for which rice they want to plant in whatever season. She added that although the country's small farmers will not stop producing the traditional red rice and the favorite Suakoko, they will continue to produce Narikas which are ready for harvest in just 90 days.
Chenoweth said Liberians have more obligations to thank the Japanese for the great support as their contributions are greatly helping and bettering the country's agricultural sector, especially rice production.
“It is not just the rice that comes in the bag; they are the biggest support behind production and increase in local rice production.”