This platform, GNN-Liberia is indeed overwhelmed to see Liberians making their move in reclaiming the much talked about broken Liberian economy by professionally making the difference to compete with some major investors in the Country. Few days ago, our staff who was enthusiastic, when GNN bombard into a seasoned Liberian businessman and administrator, Mr. Harrison S. Karnwea, the brain behind the Nimba Rubber Incorporated (NRI).In a chat with GNN-Liberia, the President and Chief Executive Officer of the NRI explained the success story of his institution, an institution many described as one of those Liberian owned institutions that is progressively competing with the country’s biggest foreign institutions in the employment of hundreds of unemployed Liberians.
Explaining his success story to our staff, Mr. Karnwea gave some basic information of his company by recounting that “On February 17, 2021, President George Manneh Weah dedicated the Natural Rubber Processing Plant belonging to Nimba Rubber Incorporated, a 100% Liberian-owned Company. Since then the factory has been purchasing rubber from smallholders in that county and upper Bong County and Salayea in Lofa County.
The presence of that small Liberian Company is now forcing Firestone, the Largest Rubber Company in Liberia to do what it has not been doing since 2017. Prior to the opening of Nimba Rubber’s plant, farmers had to make appointments to sell their rubber to Firestone. If a farmer carries its rubber to Firestone’s buying station without an appointment, the rubber will stay there for days until Firestone is ready to deal with the farmer.”
Explaining further, the NRI Chief Executive Officer sandwiched by his lovely wife at a local restaurant, Mr. Karnweah voicing out his feelings of appreciation to God said, “I Thank God for this small competitor to a giant Multinational Company,” noting, “Now Firestone has recommenced collecting rubber directly at farm gates in Nimba and Bong Counties due to the presence of another buyer in the area.
This is commendable and must be supported and encouraged. We are told that Nimba rubber bought a total of 3,840 tons in February alone because farmers had to be stuck with their rubber for some time prior to February”.
Appreciating the Liberian President, Mr. Karnwea also praised the Liberian leader, President George Weah for taking off time during his nationwide to dedicate a factory that is partially owned and managed by the former Vice Standard Bearer of Liberty Party, Honorable Harrison S. Karnwea, Sr., noted that it was a very good move; putting politics aside and doing the right thing for National Development.
Adding, “We remain hopeful that the Weah-led Government will continue to support Liberians involved in business no matter their political leaning. We hope that the Government of Liberia will empower the likes of Nimba Rubber and others to bring competition in other areas,” Mr. Karnwea who is also an executive of the opposition Liberty Party (LP) said.
On the future of his company, Mr. Karnwea said, “We encourage Nimba Rubber to go beyond just buying rubber from smallholders. Organize extension services to assist the farmers with training, farm inputs, and improved planting materials. Nimba Rubber must be looking towards another layer of value addition. We now see that you are exporting crumb rubber (TSR 10 and TSR 20). What’s about compounding, RSS1, 2 & 3? What’s about surgical gloves, condoms, and rubber bands?
Agriculture is the way forward if our country must overcome economic stagnation. We have the arable soil, the rainfall, and the youthful population that is prepared to work. What we need is for Liberian Entrepreneurs to take the bull by the horn in the same way that Nimba Rubber is doing now. Liberia at some point was the number one producer of rubber in Africa. Today, Cote d’Ivoire is the first in Natural Rubber, Cocoa worldwide, and oil palm in Africa. Ghana is number two in Cocoa worldwide. Both of these countries do not have as much rainfall as Liberia does.
Liberia needs to do better. When a plane comes to Roberts International Airport it loads only the passengers and their baggage. Whereas, when the plane comes to Abidjan, Conakry, Accra, Lagos, etc they are loading pallets of Pineapple, banana, plantain, tomatoes, flowers, and other vegetables. Consequently, air fares from Liberia to any part of the world are much higher and expensive as compared to the capitals mentioned.
As Liberia celebrates its 174th Independence Day on July 26, 2021, few days from now, the Liberian government must see reason in empowering local business establishments if they are to be ready in taken over their country’s economy; as it is always said, “The Economy must be in the hands of Liberians and not foreigners”.
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