President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has toured a Chinese-supported Bamboo and Rattan Weaving and Vegetables Projects, a technical cooperation between the Governments of Liberia and the People’s Republic of China.
The projects seek to make youths marketable by developing their skills as an “element of sustainability.”
According to an Executive Mansion release, President Sirleaf made visit at the weekend at the Ministry of Youth and Sports China-aided Bamboo Furniture Production, Rattan Weaving and Vegetable Planting Exhibition Program at the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex Community in Paynesville City, Montserrado County.
“China has done quite important things for Liberia, but this one is an element of sustainability,” President Sirleaf said.
She recommended that with some of the students graduating from the training, using Liberian bamboo and cane to weave living and dining rooms sets among others, means that Liberia is going to have a group of people who are going to be providing jobs for themselves.
President Sirleaf said the training of these people will avail the means for the government to provide for the needs of other Liberians.
She said by this, it means that the bamboo and rattan furniture-making process in Liberia and by Liberians, using Liberian natural resources will help government cut down on spending on the importation of furniture into the country.
President Sirleaf called on the Chinese authorities to go one step further by making the bamboo and rattan weaving and vegetable project competitive in order to compete with those exporting furniture from overseas so as to make those produced in Liberia marketable.
The Liberian leader said by doing this, it will help some of the young people involved with the bamboo and rattan weaving and vegetables training project to export their products of very high quality to other countries within the Mano River Union basin and West Africa as a whole.
“By this, it will make this production a real local industry,” President Sirleaf noted.
The Liberian leader commended the Government of the People’s Republic of China for the training and urged them to continue making Liberian youths marketable.
She said the essence is to prevent them from getting into other areas far away from the training that they have taken.
“To our good friends from China, thank you so much for the training that you are providing for these people,” President Sirleaf reiterated.
She said the training provided by the Chinese bamboo and rattan weaving and vegetable experts will enable young Liberians earn a livelihood by making them productive.
Earlier, Chinese Ambassador Zhang Yue said: “Agriculture is a very important area in Liberia’s economic development,” adding that this is why China is trying to help in a meaningful way in this direction.
“This bamboo and rattan weaving team has expanded its project to the Klay Agricultural and Vocational Training Center to share agricultural techniques and skills with more youths.
He assured that China will continue to support the Agricultural Technological Demonstration Center known as “Kpatawee Project” with additional US$3 million to make it sustainable.
“We are inviting more Chinese entrepreneurs to invest in Liberia, in fishery, including marine fishing, freshwater aquaculture and aquatic product processing,” Zhang disclosed.
He acknowledged Liberia is a very rich country in bamboo, rattan, wood and other resources, noting that making the best use of these renewable natural resources is a big potential and opportunity for the economic growth of the country.
“This is a good way to boost employment and empowerment of women,” Ambassador Zhang said, noting that with such purpose, the Chinese technical team has been working in Liberia for the past 10 years training Liberians free.
“This is a model capacity project, because it helps the Liberian people to use Liberian resources to make Liberian products,” the Chinese envoy noted.
“Our people are here promoting ‘made in Liberia’, made by Liberians and made from Liberia,” the Chinese envoy concluded.
For his part, Youth and Sports Minister Saah Charles N’Tow informed President Sirleaf that those going through the circles have, over the last five periods, trained in bamboo and rattan weaving and vegetable to the best of their ability.
According to him, one of the main things that the Ministry was now concerned with was to see how they can connect them to the buying public for the purpose of linking them to the market to make their products marketable.
The tour took the Liberian leader at the production sites during which she inspected several bamboo, rattan and furniture products, as well as the vegetable project sites to see the water melon, cucumber, hot pepper, Chinese onions, among others.
The project started in 2007 and has gone through five different circles and witnessed the training more than 500 Liberian youths, with some of them going for advance training in China.
As a result, about 105 of those trained have since graduated from the project and are currently running their own workshops while they are still being supported by the project.
Meanwhile, President Sirleaf made a brief stopover at the “Eye Center” in the compound of the John F. Kennedy Medical Center to inspect the level of work being done at the facility.
Upon arrival at the JFK Compound, President Sirleaf was led on a guided tour of the facility by the General Administrator of the JFK, Dr. Winnie Scott MacDonald and briefed by Sam Balasundaram, Associate Doctor, LV Prasad Eye Institute of India.