Concerns on the availability of Rice in 2016

By MUHAMMED SAILU BAH
As claims and doubts are being expressed in many circles regarding Gambia’s attainment of self sufficiency in rice production Paddy Rice fieldnext year,
in accordance with the APRC Government’s stated vision 2016, this
reporter went round to some dealers in imported rice to enquire about
concerns and state of preparedness regarding the issue.
Given that rice is the country’s main staple food, concern is beingraised by consumers on what would happen next year with imported rice
as it is declared that the country would be self sufficient in locally produced
rice by then.
Mamadou Jallow, a major dealer in imported rice in Banjul,
said their businesses would be seriously affected if the government
stops the importation of rice in 2016.
He said even if the country would be self sufficient in rice, the
government should not immediately ban imported rice. “What I’m
suggesting the government to do under such a situation is to gradually
start reducing the importation, say within a period of five years,” he
said.
Taha, a major rice importer at the Serrekunda Market, said he heard
about the government pronouncement on the self sufficiency in rice
come 2016.
When asked how this will impact on his business, his response was that
it is not a problem if the country’s demand for rice could be
satisfied by domestic production.
“If we can get locally produced rice just as the flour, then it is a
welcome development,” he said.
A former importer of rice, who is doing another business, explained
that the business is no longer as lucrative now as it was before. He
said he used to bring 25 containers of rice before but was lately
importing nothing more than 11 containers. “This is due to the foreign
exchange scarcity,” he said.
On whether he thinks Gambian rice producers could meet the market
demand for rice, he responded that this may be possible if all the
necessary requirements are put in place. He, however, expressed his
doubt regarding the present capacity of the producers to be able to
satisfy the demand.
Other rice dealers reiterated the same, indicating that it would be
welcome but expressed doubt regarding its feasibility by next year.