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The unbecoming brawl in the hike of prices of basic commodities

The unbecoming brawl in the hike of prices of basic commodities

Prices of basic commodities continue to rise thereby raising a standing advantage in the country’s economic war front. The penury stricken masses continue to hold the belief that unemployment, heavy taxations and inflation have all compounded a myriad of untold sufferings in which we now find ourselves.

The country’s staple food, rice, is seldom produced by Sierra Leoneans as we allow our idle lazy hands to let go that opportunity and rather depend on importing the commodity to our own disadvantage.

Available records show that this country was only able to produce 12.6% of its staple food last year and that subsistence farming practices account almost for that quantum and still as a nation, we cannot feed ourselves with our home grown produce.

Indications are that importation continues to give us a lot of trouble but we have still not decided to seriously address the issue.

To make matters worse, importers as well as retailers now blame the hike in prices on the very many areas they have to pay money, ranging from freight, scanning, Goods and Services Tax (GST) and City Council dues, to labour, transportation, rent on stores and loss.

They say the Government needs to reason with their plight so that a lot of money can be saved and ploughed into the economy. They also think Government should encourage business people to go into farming.

They also say Government should rather encourage youths to go into agriculture instead of politics.

When there were riots for food in neighbouring Liberia in the 1970s, this country was one of the food aid contributing countries to them which indicated that given the will and support we have the capability to get to that level of exporting rice like other developing countries.

If we can embark on the scale of production like in the 1970s the result will be that our nation’s revenue will be strengthened especially in the area of foreign exchange which will automatically have a multiplier effect on our economy.

Sad to say that even though trading forms a major component of our nation’s earning capability, with the high rate of illiteracy of most of our traders all they care about is the personal profits they would make at the detriment of the country.

As far as they understand the international trends in the meltdown phenomenon are responsible for the hike of prices of most of these imported basic commodities and that gives them the liberty to fix their own prices at will.

Some quarters however disagree, posturing the argument that the Government woefully failed to instill local measures that would cushion the meltdown to manageable levels.

Perhaps there would have been need to invest massively in agriculture and take a more robust posture against smuggling, they point out.

They are also very angry with the thriving black market which they say is a parallel market that hikes the value of foreign currencies, thereby forcing artificial inflations on the nation.

They also argue that the printing of the resized country’s currency, the Leone, at this point in time served no purpose except to swell the egos of some politicians and economists and bring more hardship on us.

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  • I read you tabloid and became interested on the topic (THE UNBECOMING BRAWL IN THE HIKE OF PRICES OF BASIC (COMMODITIES).
    What interested me most is the 12.6% you mensured to be the percentage of our total rice production as compared to importation.I first of all want to say your statistics is wrong.
    In view of this please allow me to express my view on the issue of Agriculture in Sierra leone.But before I go further, let me take this opportunity to defined Food security. Food security, is the availability, accessibility,Affordability and the acceptability of food for all and at all times. Here we also talk about food adequacy and inadequacy.
    Sierra Leone is one of the country that is blessed with a lot of water resources and an abundant precipitation but yet we the people are lazy. In Sierra Leone,we have more consumers than producers. Every Jack and Jill is looking for a white colour job, thus there is a drift of the abled youths from the rural production centres to urban centres.
    Not withstanding the above, our culture, custom and tradition is also militating Agriculture in the country. I want to assure you that both the past government to the present government have done all their outermost best to ensure food security in the country. I tell you, go to these Chiefdoms and ask for a seed bank, there is none.We as sierra Leoneans, we are the worst wicked animals to ourselves that nature has ever created on mother earth.
    In general terms, food production is on the increase in Sierra Leone, our problem is the sustainability of our production in the form of processing and preservation since most of our agricultural produce are perishable goods. Another issue affecting us in Sierra leone is our eating habit. A sierra leonean cannot live on sorghum,Millet, cassava, yam, banana, maize you name them, he or she will say for the whole day he/she has not eating.All these are carbohydrate food they supply the same energy rice gives to us.
    My point of argument here, we need to work hard to be independent than to be dependent on Government. There is no government in the world that feeds its population. They make the enabling environment for their rural people, for example, in China 70% of the population are farmers and they are living in the rural areas. In those days in Sierra leone when you tell your relatives that you are going to study agriculture in the University, they ignore you and they say you are not serious. Thus there is a total neglect for Agriculture by our very selves.As journalist, don’t just sit in Freetown and write about issues, you need to go into the big towns, chiefdoms, villages and make your assessment before you draw your conclusion.Moreover, Freetown is not Sierra Leone as most of your reports are based on the city.
    There are people who are not suppose to be in the city, what are they doing there? those are some of the issues you need to be addressing.
    If you have any further issues on Agriculture in Sierra leone and the way forward, please contact me. I am born in Agriculture and I grew up in Agriculture and today I an agriculturist in agricultural soils and water Engineering.

    25th March 2011

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