Recently during a trade fair to show case made in liberia products on the parallel market a Liberian agriculture Company for the very first time since the civil crisis produced and package Rice made in Liberia.
Actually it was amazing to see beg of rice written with the inscription made in Liberia. The introduction of the locally produce rice spouted huge argument among several Liberian including consumers, importers, distributers and retailers, wondering as to whether the commodities is rebeg rice just to attract the public attention that Liberian are capable of producing its own rice, or it is for real that the rice is locally produce in the country.
But Liberian who actually believe that the commodity was really produce in Liberia also question the capacity of the company to produce huge quantity to supply the Liberian Rice market. Others also prayed that the banks in the country Loan the institution so as to empower them engage in large production. During the street down trade fair sponsored by the Liberian Business association, Liberia chamber of commerce and the ministry of commerce and industry the trade fair was dominated with news of the introduction of the made in Liberia rice.
Rice is Liberia’s staple food, meaning a guaranteed market for investors in high quality and high yielding rice farming and processing. Liberia consumes 570,000 tons of rice every year with the average Liberian consuming 120 kg per year, compared to 96 kg per year in Senegal, and only 53 kg per year in Ghana and 33kg in Nigeria. However, there is scope for further market growth as the average Sierra Leonean consumes double the average Liberian. Liberia has significant scope to double yields and triple the amount of land that is harvested — currently 230,000 hectares is harvested but this can increase to at least 600,000 hectares, which is Liberia’s potential for irrigation, particularly if combined with the farming of fish and horticulture.
Liberia thus provides a large and growing market opportunity for investors in the rice value chain, particularly input provision, production and processing. Notably, there is a large market opportunity for investors in the Nerica variety planted in irrigated or no irrigated swamplands. There is also a large business opportunity in the supply of farm inputs and technology, hulling and milling, transportation and processing into high quality rice or products such as cereal bars, rice crackers and rice starch. Rice bran is extensively used as fish feed in Liberia and can also be processed by the pharmaceutical industry.
There is a large market opportunity
Liberia consumes 570,000 metric tons of rice every year. Of this 60% is imported leaving large scope for investors in efficient, high yield farming and irrigation to capture market share. Rice consumption in Liberia has grown by 14.1% per year on average since the end of the war.
Policy orientation to expand lowland rice areas from 10% to 22% in the next 5 years and achieve self-sufficiency of about 60% in 2017. Imports of the major countries in ECOWAS totaled 5.7 million tons of rice in 2013 alone. This has increased from 3.3 million in 2003, representing average annual growth of 5.7%. Sierra Leone, Guinea and Ivory Coast – Liberia’s three direct neighbors – imported a total of 1.4 million tons of rice in 2013 and their rice consumption is growing at the rate of 7.2% per year. In 2015, Guinea’s imports of rice amounted to USD 287m, Côte d’Ivoire’s USD 343m and Sierra Leone’s USD 84m
It is competitive to grow and process rice in Liberia
The international price for rice in May 2015 stood at $382 per metric tons. The cost of production of swampland Nerica rice (farming and processing of the paddy) is $308 per metric tons, equating to a profit of 19%. Swampland Nerica rice has a yield of 2.8 metric tons per hectare in Liberia.
Liberia currently only uses 3% of its natural internal renewable water resources to supply its rice agriculture, meaning that water is available in abundance. Given that a lot of milling in Liberia is done through traditional ways, the market for hulling is very profitable at $49 per metric tons. Various development partners are engaged in the value chain (supporting improved research and access to seed, among other areas) and are seeking to provide support to private investors. The minimum wage for skilled labor is only US$5/day, while that for unskilled labor is $4/day. By comparison the cost of unskilled labor in Ghana is US$7 per day.
Sources for main inputs
The Central Agriculture Research Institute in Gbarnga, Bong County has a large rice research program and can provide improve variety seeds, including Nerica. Africa rice provides breeder seeds that are transformed into foundation seeds. These are available through a revolving fund. There are two fertilizer and insecticide suppliers operating in Liberia (Wienco and Green farms) leaving scope for more input providers.