MONROVIA: Africa’s oldest republic, Liberia, is at the verge of embracing what has been characterized as a noteworthy and landmark economic achievement the country is poised to commission its first rubber processing plant.
The factory that is expected to begin operation in October of 2023, under the name: “Jeety Rubber Factory”, is set to contribute immensely in alleviating the harsh conditions that the country’s smallholder farmers are faced with at the moment.
The rubber processing factory which was established by former Indian Consular General to Liberia, Mr. Upjit Singh Sachdeva, commonly known as “Jetty” is an initiative that seeks to propel Liberia’s pursuit for value additions to the rubber sector and for both domestic and external use.
“Our goal has always been to contribute to Liberia’s economic development by not only adding values to the country’s natural resources but also creating employment opportunities for the local community,” Sachdeva said.
“The factory is 98 percent completed and, in a month or two from now, and by the grace of God, we will start the production. The completion is a testament to our commitment to actualizing this vision as well as create more employment opportunities for the local population, thereby contributing to poverty reduction and skills development,” the renowned business tycoon told this paper recently.
The Rubber Factory is strategically located in Weala, Cinta District, Margibi County — a region known for its rubber wealth.
Equipped with cutting-edge technological machines, the factory is dedicated to adhering to the highest quality standards and in line with international best practices.
With the inauguration of its operation, the factory is poised to meet the increasing and widespread demands for rubber-based products across industries at home and in the Diasporas.
The products from the factory may include automotive, construction, and consumer goods.
The Minister of Agriculture, Jeanine Cooper, while inspecting ongoing construction works at the factory a few weeks ago, noted that the US$30 million investment would play a critical role in providing additional revenues for smallholders and large-scale rubber farmers in dire need of cash.
The factory, Minister Cooper noted, would help in addressing the critical issue of financial insecurity faced by rubber farmers, and would play a pivotal role in ensuring that farmers sustain their livelihoods.
“Firestone is the main big player that buys from the Liberian farmers,” Cooper said during a visit to the factory over the weekend.
“If Firestone’s plant breaks down and they can’t buy from Liberian farmers, the whole economy feels it,” she added.
Liberia, arguably the most prime location for production of natural rubber in the world, has traditionally been a major exporter of raw rubber, leaving farmers, particularly smallholders who constitute a significant portion of the agricultural workforce, struggling at the mercy of export markets as it relates to obtaining fair prices.
However, now emerges as a key player in bridging the gap between farmers and the market, offering them a reliable avenue to generate income as it has the capacity to process more than 60 tons per hour.
“Moreover, the establishment of the factory will likely stimulate related industries, fostering a ripple effect of economic growth in the country,” Sachdeva added.