LIBERIA: Move to create a rubber development fund

The Liberian president, in a meeting with the Rubber Farmers Association, shared the concern of the Association that unless concerted efforts are made by all sides, the commodity will continue to experience further decrease in production.

According to an Executive Mansion release, President Sirleaf was responding to a briefing by rubber farmers on the current state of affairs of rubber production in Liberia. She met with members of the Association at her temporary office at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs recently.

She expressed concern that her proposal to create a rubber development fund was moving too slow which she suggested if created would serve as a stabilization fund for the industry in case of any future eventuality.

While government is working to address the situation, the Liberian leader suggested that rubber companies save some of their financial assets in the economy to serve as an intervention during such situations and at the same time helping the local economy.

President Sirleaf described the rubber sector as a major economic activity that should not be left alone without government's intervention in its difficult period of the rubber industry.

She believes that the fund, if created as was proposed long ago, would have served as a fallback position for addressing situations arising like the current one. She, however, challenged the sector's actors and relevant government agencies to collaborate in creating such fund.

The Liberian leader further proposed to the farmers to consider intercropping the rubber sector with other agricultural products including rice, sugar cane and/or oil palm which she said would fill in the financial gap created by the drop in rubber production.

She thanked the farmers for working together in maintaining the rubber industry as Liberia's traditional cash crop commodity. She believes that government should stand by the farmers in stabilizing the situation.

Speaking earlier, the head of the interim management team of the COCOPA Rubber Company in Nimba County, Mr. Harrison S. Karnwea, said the current situation facing rubber farmers has led to his inability to service his payroll that cost him at least USD 150,000 monthly.

Source: allafrica.com website, 5 May 2014
(Syed Rashid Ali, Karachi, Pakistan)