Samuel Tweah, the Minister of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP), has assured rubber planters of government’s continued support to improve the sector.
According to Tweah, he has observed that rubber planters are struggling for loans from various banks to improve their businesses and, therefore, he would approach the government to assist the sector.
He said authorities of the Liberia Bank for Development Investment (LBDI), a development bank that should play a significant role in revamping the rubber sector, should also make significant strides to revamp the sector.
“Though the bank has been making a significant impact in the Liberian economy, the rubber sector needs more support,” Mr. Tweah said.
The minister spoke at a one-day forum on the Liberian rubber sector, organized by LBDI in Monrovia, over the weekend. Tweah then encouraged rubber planters and other Liberian business owners to feel free to invest in the economy, “because the government will eventually support your respective ventures.”
Tweah said Liberia is not adding value to rubber, something he said is hampering the growth and development of the industry.
He also frowned on the lack of support to the rubber sector and, because of that, Mr. Tweah said rubber planters, as of last Friday, should no longer struggle for money to add value to the sector.
John B. S. Davies, LBDI President, has meanwhile called for a robust innovative rubber sector as well as a master plan that would guide improvement of the sector to compute with international best practices.
“I want to see the rubber sector bring value to the country… that will create jobs for Liberians to improve the economy,” Davies said, adding that Liberia has stayed long in the exploration of raw rubber without getting more value from the product.
The purpose of the weekend exercise was to discuss with innovative suggestions and prospects that the government can rely on to work with the rubber sector in achieving several of the many economic goals of Liberia.
Davies said though the rubber sector has a number of expectations, there are few obligations that cannot be ignored as well. He challenged participants not to relent on pointing out those obligations the sector has, because it will help to improve the rubber sector.
He said to jumpstart the recovery process of the rubber industry, specific focus should be placed on several post multi-state factors in terms of accessing where the industry is, and to provide an opportunity as to where the sector is headed.
Mr. Davies also named the limitation of rubber processing facilities as one of the challenges in the sector. He said that since the 1920s up to date, Liberia has only been in the exportation of raw rubber, without considering the impact the trade has globally.
According to Mr. Davies, the methodology of moving the rubber sector to stage one is inefficient, because there is a need to look at innovative and alternative ways and technology that would improve existing facilities for the processing of rubber in the country.
The president of the Rubber Planters Association of Liberia, Wilhelmina Siaway, said it is the focus of the leadership of the Rubber Planters Association to add value to rubber and establish training institutions in the country.
She assured the LBDI president that members of the association will abide by the policy of banking institutions in the payment of loans.
“We want to assure you, Mr. Davies, that our members are fully prepared to follow and obey all the rules and regulations of the banks that will give our members loan; we will pay back the loans; trust us,” she said.
The forum was attended by the Minister of Agriculture, heads of cooperative development agencies and other partners in the sector.