-Rubber industry authorities announce
Authorities of the rubber industry of Liberia, which comprise the Rubber Development Fund, Inc. (RDFI) and the Rubber Planters Association of Liberia (RPAL), have announced that Firestone will in the shortest possible time resume rubber purchasing from smallholder rubber farmers across the country.
Firestone recently suspended the purchase of rubber from farmers for a period of one month due to the current space constraints in the company’s storage facility, for which they have no other options than this in other to free up the space.
Many small-holder rubber farmers, especially those in Salala District, depend solely on the regular purchase of their rubber inventory by Firestone, for the support of their families, which Firestone in turn exports the commodity in bulk to customers abroad.
The Rubber Industry Authorities are also informing all rubber farmers that the recent pronouncement by Firestone –Liberia to suspend the purchasing of rubber for a period of one month, beginning March 2020 is a temporary measure which is intended to provide for the servicing and maintenance of their factory, including their equipment.
The action by Firestone Liberia is not new. In August 10 through August 24, 2017, the company suspended all rubber purchasing “due to the same extreme oversupply of our rubber inventory.”
The rubber industry in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) has been holding series of meetings with the Firestone Management as well as other key rubber processors in the country in a bid to help mitigate the situation, the authorities of the industry has disclosed.
The authorities further said that Firestone Management has reassured the Liberian rubber industry of its commitment to resuming the purchases of rubber in early April 2020 and, as such, the industry is coordinating with other processors and exporters such as Liberia Agriculture Company (LAC) and Lee Group to increase their respective purchase of the quantity of rubber beyond their regular capacities.
Meanwhile, the rubber industry is also working with other local processors such as the Nimba Rubber Incorporated and Cooper Rubber Factory, located in Bomi County, to get them operational, but said this may not happen before Firestone Liberia resumes its operations of rubber buying in early April 2020.
“Notwithstanding, once these to local processors become operational within the next two months, they will be able to address some of the challenges rubber farmers face in transporting and marketing their produces”, the authorities noted.
They expressed appreciation to the rubber farmers for remaining calm, during these challenging times and assured them that everything will be done within their limit to ensure that rubber purchases across the country are resumed and that the capacities of other local processors are enhanced in order to avoid a repetition of the current situation at hand.