1 thought on “The Mathematics of Rice: (Putting my big mouth in the people’s rice Palava)—

  1. RICE! Arguably one of the contributing factors for the downfall of the Tolbert government in 1980.
    Not that he needs my affirmation in his treatment of the issue of rice shortage in Liberia, but the long-term solution of this issue is for the private sector to grow rice. The author makes the classic case that would stand in any Econ 101 class: All things being equal, the high cost of a product should encourage many suppliers to enter the market to meet the demand. The more suppliers you have, the greater the competition. The result is price drop. There are many reasons why that does not happen in Liberia. One reason is addressed in his book, “Another America: The Story of Liberia and the former Slaves Who Ruled It” published in 2013 written by James Ciment, PhD. He states that in the pioneering days of Liberia (ca 1822), some of returned the free slaves would rather dress up and walk up and down the unpaved streets of Monrovia than move to any of the surrounding settlements where you could grow anything in the fertile soil. The second reason is that we would rather eat parboiled than “country” rice. I do not know whether there has been a change in mind set. Parents would rather have their children “pick” rice all day, than buy country rice, which was ready to be cooked. One year, a batch of imported rice smelled like shit. However, that was still preferred over country rice. Compare that to aroma of “new” country rice.
    Given the cost per bag of rice plus a decent profit coupled with the low barrier to entry, I dare say a farmer who grows rice could do well; however, everyone sits around waiting for the government or the international community (IC) to do something. The sad part is that when the international community steps in to help, people in charge rob the whole thing in the hope that the IC will refill the bucket.
    Just as every rainy season, roads will “cut,” we will have the issue of rice for the foreseeable future. Do not be misled by the grandiose speeches of the honorables, because according to his book (which Tubman banned), “If talking made muscles and nerve, the Republic of Liberia would rule the world.” (p. 76) – Liberia, The Inside Story by Luther Henry Lemley, 1963.
    Thanks Henrique Caine

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