Claim: “I should be the first or the second person producing Bong County white rice, and I import [export] from here to America.” I still have samples at my house.
Source: Candidate Johnny Kpehe Sr.
Verdict: Unproven, there is no information that the senatorial candidate is exporting rice to the US.
Full text: As the long-awaited and discussed October 10 elections get closer, candidates, qualified by the National Elections Commission (NEC) are doing everything in their power to convince electorates for either a six- or nine-year term, depending on the position they are contesting for.
One of those campaigners is Johnny K. Kpehe, an independent candidate, who is contesting the senatorial seat in Bong County.
Kpehe posted on his official Facebook page (3:38) his appearance on Super Bongese, a local radio station in Bong County, to push his manifesto on why he should be elected.
During that interview, the candidate stated that he has a farm in Bong and is exporting rice to the United States of America.
The candidate stated, “I stand to be corrected; I should be the first or the second person producing Bong County’s white rice, and I import [export] from here to America. I still have samples at my house.”
His post has, as of this check date, generated 591 comments, and 263 shares, and it has been viewed 13.1 thousand times with variable comments.
Verification: The Stage Media checked the latest report on rice production and the exportation history of Bong County, but the only record we got was about the World Bank project in Bong.
The project assisted about 9,000 small farmers in the upper Bong County in developing about 6,000 ha of upland rice, and 2,000 ha of swamp rice.
3,000 ha of cocoa, and 1,500 ha of coffee through the provision of farm inputs based on credit, extension services for crop production and land development, and assistance in processing and marketing of crops.
We also checked the World Bank report on Economic Update, “Getting Rice Right for Productivity and Poverty Alleviation.”
In that report, among other things, it said, “Liberia’s medium-term economic outlook is positive, but uncertainties remain.
Even as it has been trying to recover from a decade of weak economic and social performance, Liberia’s overall productivity and economic efficiency remain low, especially in vital sectors of the economy, including agriculture.”
Another report from Trading Economics that quoted the United Nations COMTRADE database stated, “United States Imports of rice from Liberia were US$10.73 million during 2019, according to the United Nations COMTRADE database on international trade.”
According to the FAO Global Information and Early Warning System, prices of rice and other essential food products are significantly higher every year stating that as of May 2022 (latest available data), retail prices of imported rice increased on average by 8 per cent year‑on‑year, with peaks of up to 35 per cent year‑on‑year in some southeastern regions, particularly River Gee County.
We did not get any information about rice export from Bong to the United States of America, although Kphehe claimed he exports rice to the US from Bong County.
When we checked his Facebook page using keywords like, ‘Rice exportation to USA’, we did not also find any of his posts that talked about export.
TSM used a single-word check using rice. At this time, we established that it is true that the candidate is involved with rice production in Bong county
In October of 2022, he made a post, among other things, that says, “How Johnny Kpehe is Helping To Solve Liberia’s Rice Problem.
As Liberia continues to battle with the perennial nightmare of Rice Dependency, many citizens continue to underscore the need for the country to consider local Rice Production ainstead of importingthe nation’s staple!
Recently, there has been news of a rice shortage in the Liberian market, which has caused panicked buying and hoarding across the country!
Kpehe operates a local Rice Production factory that processes local Liberian rice grown on large acres of land in the county.
Dubbed Putting Our Resources Together ( PORT), the rice is supplied to the local market in Bong County at an affordable price, but in some cases, its demand is seen in a few neighboring counties and Montserrado as well!
Kpehe said he is open to partnership with the Government of Liberia and individuals or institutions in the Private sector to produce more of the P.O.R.T. Rice on a larger scale.
TSM called the Bong County Senatorial candidate on September 13, 14, and 15, but his two contacts were said to be switched off or out of coverage.
Text messages were sent to him via WhatsApp and regular SMS, but he has not responded to any of those messages up to the time of his publication.
Screenshots from WhatsApp
When he replies, this article will be updated.
Conclusion: Even though TSM established that the candidate is involved in rice production, but, there is no available data that supports his claim that he exports rice to the USA. Therefore, his claim about rice exportation is unproven.
This story was produced with the Center for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID)’s support.