MONROVIA – The Rubber Planter Association of Liberia (RPAL) has thrown its weight behind President George Weah’s Executive Order 124, which temporarily prohibits the export of unprocessed rubber.
By Gerald C. Koinyeneh – [email protected]
In a supportive statement, RPAL emphasized the economic benefits of adding value to natural rubber, citing potential profit increases, reduced unemployment, and income generation for the nation’s citizens.
RPAL urges the incoming 55th Legislature to transform the temporary ban into law, believing it will positively impact the rubber sector, fostering the establishment of local processing plants and propelling Liberia’s rubber industry to global sustainability.
“That the legislation will significantly impact the regulation of the rubber sector, thus resulting in the establishment of rubber processing plants in the country. In this vein, the Liberia rubber industry will reach its full potential of the Global Platform of Sustainable Natural Rubber,” the group said in the statement release through its officials including Tokpah Mulbah, president, Joe Karnwea Gartor, executive director and Bannie T. Brown, the chairman on advocacy and publicity.
President Weah’s executive order, issued last month, addresses the challenges faced by the sector, including abuse, misuse, and theft. The order aims to develop effective policies and a regulatory framework to ensure sustained industry development and growth.
“From the date of this Executive Order, there shall be no exportation of unprocessed natural rubber from Liberia until otherwise advised,” the executive order declared.
“That within 30 days of the issuance of this Executive Order, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, in conjunction with the Ministry of Agriculture, shall make a special effort to provide access to domestic markets for Liberian rubber farmers in remote areas who rely primarily on cross-border trade in unprocessed natural rubber,” the order said.
RPAL, aligning with the President’s perspective, highlights that the exportation of unprocessed natural rubber undermines value addition, diminishes revenue, and adversely impacts the economy. The association asserts that 16% of Liberia’s revenue comes from the rubber industry, emphasizing the need to curb unprocessed rubber exports for economic stability.
The group also raises concerns about illicit activities within the industry, such as withholding government funds and subscription fees, leading to increased theft on local rubber farms. RPAL emphasizes the adverse effects, including high security costs, income loss for rubber planters, and general hardships.
In response to these challenges, RPAL officially supports the moratorium on unprocessed rubber exports, emphasizing the necessity of traceability in rubber sales.
The association, established in 1966, acts as a non-profit entity focused on educating smallholder rubber farmers, advocating for funding assistance, and exposing them to market opportunities.
RPAL stresses the significance of natural rubber as a raw material used in various products globally, contributing to medical devices, tires, pacifiers, clothes, and more. Despite the potential for poverty reduction, the current production and marketing techniques do not maximize gains for smallholder farmers.
Since the introduction of Firestone in 1926, rubber plantations have been a primary source of employment in Liberia. Companies like Liberia Agriculture Corporation (LAC), Cavalla Rubber Corporation (CRC), Salala Rubber Corporation (SRC), Nimba Rubber, Sinoe Rubber Corporation, and Jetty Rubber Trading Corporation play vital roles in rubber production, though often at semi-processed or unprocessed.