Rubber Manufacturing Plant Inaugurated in Bomi

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A female operator in action on Cooper Farm

The Cooper Rubber Processing Plant (CRPP), the first 100 percent Liberian owned plant that will manufacture retreaded tires, roofing materials, electrical insulators, fixtures PVC pipes, fittings, rubber gloves, among others has been inaugurated in the country.

Mr. James E. Cooper is the vice president of the Rubber Planters Association of Liberia (RPAL) and is also the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of CRPP.

The CRPP was inaugurated on Monday, June 4, at a well-attended ceremony graced by major players in the Liberian economy. The plant is located in Blagai, Bomi Highway.

According to CEO Cooper CRPP purchases rubber from local farmers across the country and process them into crepe technically specified rubber (TSR) 10 which is then exported to automobile tire manufacturers in Asia and the United States.

He said the plant also has the capacity to produce ribbed smoked sheets for export. Mr. Cooper is assisted by a team of national and foreign staff with diverse training and experiences in rubber related operations and other related fields. Mr. Cooper described the initiative as “A Call to Action” for Liberian entrepreneurs.

“This is a call to action and the beginning of a national conversation about the importance and significance of rubber manufacturing,” he said.

He noted that the crepe TSR is the highest quantities of commodities made on the farm, processed and sent away. “We want to do all these here and this is why we have built this plant,” Mr. Cooper said.

Mr. Cooper noted, “What we’re trying to do here is simple; people have serious issues in Bomi and the way to do that provides them with jobs to boost our country’s economy.”

“One of the things we have to put together is to create jobs for our people…if a man does not have a job, there will be no dignity; there’s no hope for the family at home. So the establishment of the plant will be able to contribute to the government’s pro-poor agenda,” he noted.

He said the farm was originally established by his father in 1956 and in 1962 they began to sell rubber to Firestone. “Today I see in front of me my dream being realized – the first ever state of the art rubber processing plant in Liberia. I can proudly say we have arrived,” Mr. Cooper said.

At Monday’s ceremony, CRPP also celebrated the grand opening of its specialty tire manufacturing facility, which will produce tires, slippers and other rubber materials for the first time in the country.

(From left) Mr. Cooper, Cllr. Mulbah and Police IG Sudue with other guests at the facility.

The inauguration of CRPP, he said comes with many benefits, including the expansion of its employees from 156 to 300, expansion of the revenue base for the government, increase in the price of raw rubber to local farmers and knowledge transfer to rubber manufacturing from foreign rubber manufacturers to Liberians.

Mr. Cooper also stated that the dream of processing rubber for export, especially as a Liberian was not only ambitious but challenging. Mr. Cooper said he engaged and succeeded in getting funding from a private investor, Bob Jackson of the Liberian Economic Development and Financing Corporation (LEDFEC).

As a new entrant in the rubber sector of Liberia, Mr. Cooper has succeeded in transforming latex and coagulated harvesting, selling raw rubber to processing and exporting quality rubber to Malaysia and the USA.

He also believes that to remain a sustainable job creation entity, he must venture into manufacturing of rubber products for sale throughout West Africa.

Additional funding was also sourced from the government through the Rubber Development Stimulus Fund. “The funding was helpful in constructing the factory and the administrative building as well as procuring machinery and equipment. It also helped in the process of building the capacities of the workers,” Mr. Cooper said.

Cllr. Darku Mulbah, Solicitor General lauded Mr. Cooper for the initiative and assured he would the support of the Liberian government.

Cllr. Mulbah also encouraged other Liberians to unite in order to move the country’s economy forward as well as better the lives of its citizens.

Reiterating Cllr. Mulbah’s statement of support to the Cooper Farm, Inspector General of Police, Patrick Sudue encouraged other Liberians to put hands together and ensure that Liberia becomes great.

In several remarks, the president of the Liberian Bank for Development and Investment LBDI, John Davies pledged his support to Mr. Cooper’s initiative.

Meanwhile observers say the initiative undertaken by Mr. Cooper offers a shining ray of hope especially to small and medium Liberian rubber farmers who have long been exploited by the big rubber companies especially Firestone by paying little or nothing to local farmers  for their rubber.  Currently, the Government of Liberia forbids the export of raw rubber by small producers but yet allow Firestone and other large rubber companies  from doing so. According to them

Currently, according to a small rubber farmer(name withheld) there is a surcharge imposed on every ton of rubber sold by Liberian farmers and that tax money goes to the Liberia Rubber Planters Association(RPAL) which, rather than being of benefit to farmers  has since instead become a virtual cash cow for Government officials as there is no accountability by the  managers of such funds neither has there been any report over how much is being realized and how much has been realized over the years.

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10 COMMENTS

  1. Congratulation to Mr. Cooper for his farsightedness!! The people in Bomi County will benefit greatly from his rubber manufacturing plant.

    Bomi County (Bomi Hills) was once a booming mining town when it was operated under LMC (Liberia Mining Company). It is regrettable that Liberia’s oldest mining company went out of business in the early 70s thus leaving Bomi Hills a ghost town with little development in the community after so many years of operation (exploitation). We need more manufacturing plants, more entrepreneurship and more agro-businesses to resurrect many sleeping towns in rural Liberia.

    Liberia can rise again if this new government sets good economic policies and financial priorities to mitigate some of the difficult barriers to economic growth and development that have plagued Liberia for so long.

    How did a little country like Singapore that went through so much hardship in its early years, that lacks natural resources developed so rapidly after it gained its independence from Great Britain in 1963? Singapore developed an educated workforce with strong work ethics, and good moral values to be considered one of the least corrupt counties in the world.

    Liberia can rise again if we put some of these good principles to work like Singapore did for the betterment of our country.

    Here are few suggestions on reducing poverty: educate the Liberian workforce by establishing more polytechnic High Schools and Colleges (for more technical blue-collard jobs). Decentralize the Liberian economy by focusing on rural development……..roads, infrastructure (schools, health centers), water & electricity.

    Create small business loans for farmers to become agro-entrepreneurs. Encourage family planning to help alleviate poverty….too many children are being born to parents who do not have the financial means to care for their children. Invest in human capital and narrow the poverty gap between the rich (minority) and the poor (majority).

    Develop a zero tolerance for corruption and strengthen the rule of law to attract foreign businesses into Liberia. Eliminate the use of dual currencies in the public sector that is causing the price of goods to fluctuate on the Liberian market. U.S. Dollar should be used only as foreign reserve and foreign exchange. If not, then Liberia should go back to using the U.S. dollar as it was before Doe came into power until our economy is strengthened.

    Open up the country to international market and foreign investment with some tax incentives for those who will help develop the country and employ high percentage of Liberian workers.

    There are many Liberians in Diaspora who are willing to come and invest in Liberia but they would do so on the condition that they are given dual citizenship.

    Manufacturing is a technical business that needs financial investment, electricity, water and a well trained workforce. If many Liberians are trained in this sector of the economy, we could be cultivating most of our local crops and stable food (rice) on a large scale for both domestic and international markets.

    Again, thanks Mr. Cooper for your farsightedness in bringing rubber manufacturing jobs to the people of Bomi County.

    Poverty reduction in Liberia cannot be done by this government alone!!! We all have to chip in to make Liberia rise again!!!!

    • I couldn’t have agreed more Bro. Conneh. Building our technological capacity in terms of trained manpower is very crucial to building a viable and sustained economy and society. Hopefully the government will prioritize some of the nation’s resources toward vocational and technical colleges throughout the country.

      I do agree with Mr. Cooper that is high time we not just start a national discourse on the direction of the nation’s economy, but I think we (ordinary Liberians) need to start investing in these areas if we want a change.

      I noticed the opening paragraph of this article talks about this plant to manufacture roofing materials, electrical insulators, PVC pipes & fittings, rubber gloves and retreading tires etc. and it is commendable but subsequent paragraphs give slightly different picture as to what this plant will actually do.

      The CEO talks about technically specified rubber (TSR), which will be exported to automobile tire manufacturers in Asia and the United States. If this is all the plant will be doing by taking the raw/fresh latex and creping it into a flat solid sheet for shipment to manufacturers outside the country, then why would the writer of this article refers to manufacturing end products such as PVC pipes and so on?

      It seems though either the writer was misled or is misleading the public by stating what this plant will not be doing…

  2. Typo Correction: to be considered one of the least corrupt countries in the world.Not counties.
    we could be cultivating most of our local crops and staple food (rice)… (not stable).

  3. Deacon Goffa,
    What are you talking about man? God helps you every blessed day. For instance, when you wake up, you’re blessed. Right?

    Deacon Goffa, there’s too much corruption in your country. Would you agree? What have you done in the past to preach against corruption? Lastly, how far would you like your country to go?

  4. Manufacturing in all sectors of the Liberian economy is a salient prerequisite for a strong Liberian dollar and a vibrant Liberian economy no longer dependent on donor aid.

  5. What is the net worth or value of the plant?

    What is the value of out put per year of this plant?

    The paper failed to add any quantitative value or output of this new company or plant.

  6. Starting a business is one thing but turning it into a success story is a whole different ball of wax. About two years ago there was a hot pepper sauce company (I don’t remember the name now) started by one Cooper and Harris Morris Jr. and I believe it was funded by USAID, and the Liberian government to the tone of $1 Million dollars. That business lasted only a year and that was it. I think their first year of operation is when Ebola struck the country but I’m not sure if Ebola had a direct impact or there were other issues. So let’s give this business couple of years before we start singing the praises. Unfortunately, Liberians have not demonstrated the skill and discipline to run a successful business and it’s evident by the dominance of the economy by foreigners. The rudimentary architecture of that factory tells a different story about its long term viability but I hope I’m wrong.

  7. From Sri Lanka, my most sincere heartiest congratulations and most warm wishes to Liberian entrepreneurs. This is the only way to go to bring true benefits from Liberian rubber. You have exploded the MYTH perpetuated by some big companies that rubber products cannot be made in Liberia. This was the common view held when I helped Liberian rubber stakeholders to draft the Rubber Master Plan. I see things changing now. Grate step forward. A courageous step.

    The Liberain delegations which visited Sri Lanka several times witnessed what Sri Lanka is doing with a wonderful resource, natural rubber given by the God. One day, Liberia may earn BILLIONS of dollars by exporting products to the global market including ECOWAS. Remember there will be teething troubles but we must learn by doing. It is important that you train your people, the young people in Rubber Technology and Process Engineering. Maintaining quality must be done from very inception. You cannot offer a tire that wastes or bursts on the way. Your Rubber Master Plan has provisions for such things. The RPAL and the government must launch such programs. Sri Lanka is willing to help Liberia in this regard. Wish you very best. It was dream to see a rubber products factory running in Liberia.

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