Rubber farmers in Zoeluapa, Gbao Clan, Zoe-geh Statutory District, Nimba County, have expressed their ardent desire to continue to partner with Firestone Liberia in the quest to restore the Liberian rubber industry to its pre-war status.
The farmers’ desire was expressed during a meeting with a team from the Public Affairs Department of the company, held on Saturday, March 5, 2011. During the meeting, the farmers thanked Firestone Liberia for launching the Free Rubber Stumps Distribution Exercise which they said has been a great help to them.
According to the farmers, the exercise has enabled them to get engage in the rubber farming business; something they noted has made them potential Liberian rubber farmers. They told the visiting team that their area is becoming a strategic rubber belt in that part of the country.
They disclosed that it was based on their potential to produce enough wet tons of rubber a month; that they have organized themselves into a rubber farmers union and are now seeking assistance from Firestone, through its Rubber Purchase Department directly. They also appealed to the company to step up the number of rubber stumps it intends to issue them for the ensuing farming season because as they put it.
“We’ve enough farmland that we need to plant with rubber, but the stumps are not plenty to cover all.” The meeting with the farmers took place in the newly constructed headquarters of the Zoeluapa Rubber Farmers Union located just few yards from the town. “Our farms are helping us to sustain our families and to do other things for ourselves; so the rubber is part of our living in Zoeluapa.” The farmers stressed.
They also appealed to Firestone Liberia to help to rehabilitate a less than ten mile feeder road that leads from the Saclepea/Bahn Highway to Zoeluapa which is in a deplorable condition. They noted that the bad road condition is hampering the free movement of goods and citizens.
In closing, one of the leaders of the union, Mr. Carlton Johnson, lauded the Public Affairs Team for the visit and expressed appreciation to Firestone Liberia for its continuous assistance to Liberian rubber farmers in their efforts to replant existing farms and plant new ones.
Mr. Johnson reiterated earlier call by his colleagues for the Rubber Purchase Department to accept the invitation to visit Zoeluapa so as to assess the rubber production capacity of farmers in the area. He noted that this will enable the department to deal with the farmers directly in term of purchasing their products.
After listening attentively to the appeal of the farmers, the Public Affairs Manager of Firestone Liberia who led the team to Zoeluapa, Mr. G. Rufus Karmorh, noted the sentiments expressed by the Zoeluapa Rubber Farmers Union and promised to convey the messages to Management through the Rubber Purchase Department of the company.
Mr. Karmorh called on the farmers to continue to fully utilize the free rubber stumps supplied them by Firestone Liberia so as to restore the Liberian rubber industry to its pre-war status.
The Firestone Liberia Public Affairs boss assured the farmers that Firestone Liberia will continue to be an active partner in the socio-economic development of Liberia.
He further used the occasion to enlighten the farmers on some of the positive developments permeating within the concession area of Firestone Liberia and its educational and health programs of the company. Earlier the team visited some recipients of the Free Rubber Distribution Program in Bong and Margibi Counties.