Liberia Concludes First-Ever National Rice Symposium

The Liberia National Rice Symposium held on September 25-26th has set the stage for revolutionizing the Liberian rice industry. The two-day event held at the Farmington Resort in Margibi, under the theme “Getting Rice Right,” drew together over 250 delegates, moderators, and panelists including government officials, and policy makers, NGOs, and development organizations, rice growers, and farmers’ networks, researchers, industry professionals, agribusinesses, extension agents, agriculture consultants, academic institutions, and media representatives.

Delivering the Keynote Address on behalf of the Government of Liberia, Economic Advisor to the President of Liberia, His Excellency George Manneh Weah, Mr. Charles Bright, called the Symposium a historic event. “Indeed, this Symposium is the first of its kind in Liberia,” he said. It indicates the high commitment our administration places on bringing voices together, seeking innovative ways and implementing a new pathway for Getting Rice Right; not only a perfect theme of this Symposium but a catchy slogan to mobilize and encourage all hands on deck to ensure the rice we eat must be the rice we grow, a rice that will be affordable and a rice of superior quality with high nutrients.

Minister Jeanine Cooper, speaking during the documentary “Getting Rice Right,” which formed part of Setting the Stage for the 2-day event, called the Symposium a first step for Liberian rice. “The Symposium is an important step for us. It’s the first time that we’re putting our rice cards on the table. We are talking about rice and we intend to get rice right. We know we have the potential,” she said.

Organized by the Ministry of Agriculture, partners including the World Bank, African Development Bank, IFAD, USAID, the European Union, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), WFP, ECOWAS, and IITA through their various representatives commended the Ministry of Agriculture on taking a great leap forward in laying the foundation towards building the value chain for one of Liberia’s most important and significant value crops, rice.

Highlighting Liberia’s rice competitive advantage, Minister Jeanine Cooper stated that Liberia has the potential to produce rice at a level that many other countries who consume rice don’t have. “That competitive advantage, that spirit and determination, and resilience that we have as a people is what we want to tap into,” she said. “Now, to flip the script and produce enough rice so that at least 75% of what we consume can be grown locally,” is the goal, she said.

The private sector and agribusiness leaders also played critical roles throughout the Symposium in the various panel discussion.

The symposium’s key outcomes were:

  • Profiling inherent potentials along the rice value chain
  • Exploring and documenting potential synergies between development actors and the private sector
  • Identifying and documenting areas of comparative advantage for rice development in various regions,
  • Building a consensus on the policy environment and NRDS-II
  • Highlighting and documenting the roles and commitments of key stakeholders in critical areas, and
  • Developing a workable action plan aligned with the NRDS-II, LASIP-3, and Government social development policies

Speaking to the Liberia rice brand, Mr. Charles Bright said “Country Rice,” a term widely used for rice grown on the Liberian soil “shall from henceforth be referred to officially as Liberian Rice.”

The Ministry of Agriculture is focused on “Getting Rice Right” and has established a website, www.gettingriceright.com and other tools to continue communicating and engaging the public and the industry stakeholders towards driving the rice vision for Liberia.

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