19 April 2019

Liberia: Nimba District #2 Lawmaker Wants Govt Fast Track U.S.$1.7 Million Rubber Stimulus Package for Farmers

House chairman on Agriculture, Nimba County District #2 Representative Prince O.S. Tokpah

Nimba County District#2 Representative Prince Tokpah has called on the Government through the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) to fast-track the disbursement of the US$1.7 million allocated to farmers in the country.

Representative Tokpah, who spoke on Thursday, April 18, 2019, at the program marking the groundbreaking ceremony of the Rubber Planters Association of Liberia (RPAL) headquarters, said the stimulus package, when released by government, will help the struggling rubber farmers to greatly improve.

"In my administration as House Chairman on Agriculture, I recalled that farmers in the country were complaining that the sector is not making money at all, but through my help and RPAL's president, Wilhelmina G. Mulbah-Siaway, we lobbied ensure that the sector is rescued. I believe that agriculture is the bedrock of our economy and the rubber sector is of no exception," he said.

Representative Tokpah said based on these conditions, he thought about rubber stimulus package that the government should make available US$1.7 million to ensure that the sector reawakens itself.

According to him, if farmers are empowered positively, where production is booming and no riot is ongoing, it will also help government in its efforts aimed at job creation.

"Although, the government put in some money, it is not much. We want to use this occasion to call on MFDP to fast-track the payment to ensure that the farmers receive it to help improve the sector," Representative Tokpah added.

He said most of the rubber farms are closed down and "we don't want that to happen again because the farmers are the ones helping government to reduce employment rate in this country.

"So, if they close, it means that the burden will be on Government," Representative Tokpah continued. "I think it is in this wisdom that we are saying, please hurry up and give the US$1.7 million to the farmers, because most of them are trying to see how they can add value to the sector."

He noted that some rubber farmers are trying to build a factory, machines and to do other activities, but how will they do it when the money is not there, because once the factory is operational it will be of no regret for farmers to pay back government money.

Representative Tokpah called on the Minister Samuel Tweah to hurry up because time is far spent and the disbursement of the funds has taken five to seven months now. They want the matter to be laid to rest.

It may be recalled, during a one-day forum on the Liberian rubber sector, organized by the Liberia Bank for Development and Investment (LBDI) in Monrovia last year, Minister Tweah assured the rubber planters of government's continued support to improve the sector.

According to Tweah, he 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 LBDI, a development bank that has played a significant role in revamping the rubber sector, should make more strides to revamp the sector.

"Though the bank has been making a significant impact in the Liberian economy, the rubber sector needs more support," Minister Tweah said. He added that 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 September 2018, should no longer struggle for money to add value to the sector.

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