In 2008 before the global financial meltdown, the world witnessed an increased upsurge in cash crops particularly rice, which remains Liberia's major staple diet. The global rice price increase signaled pending hardship for the Liberian people and for which Pres. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf responded by entering into bilateral negotiations with the Government and People of Japan for Food Aid assistance which culminated into the signing of a number of Exchange of Notes, (E/N), for the supply of Food Aid (rice) and Non-Project Grant (petroleum products).
Being Liberia's first engagement into the Japanese Food Aid monetization program, there were a number of challenges from the inception of the program when the initial consignment of 8,612 metric tons of assorted rice arrived into the country on 26 June 2009. The Ministry of Commerce has adequately managed the monetization program since it was turned over to the Ministry from the Liberia Produce Market Company (LPMC).
In keeping with these bilateral agreements (Exchange of Notes), funds generated will be deposited into a special account at the Central Bank of Liberia and utilized upon the submission of project proposals with socio-economic impact, but subject to the approval of the Japanese Government. In order words, to support social economic development that impacts the livelihood of ordinary Liberian citizens.