In Liberia, small-holder rubber farmers depend on Firestone to purchase their rubber harvests for export to the world market.
After months of temporary halt to the purchase of rubber, the management of Firestone Liberia, through its purchase department, has announced that the company will officially commence rubber purchase from local farmers on Wednesday, July 15, 2020. This announcement is expected to spark the rush for farmers to begin taking their rubber to purchasing stations as they have since been parking the product and anxiously waiting to hear such an announcement from the only purchaser in the country.
However, the company in its announcement also informed rubber farmers that it will not purchase much rubber as was in the past. “We will only be buying limited quantities for each month. This is due to unavoidable factors caused by the worldwide coronavirus pandemic.”
The company indicated that at the beginning of each month, the volume of rubber that Firestone Liberia will purchase will be announced.
For the month of July, Firestone said they will limit purchases to a volume of 1.75 million dry lbs. (1323 wet tons).
In February, Firestone put a halt to the purchase of rubber from local farmers due to what it said were maintenance of the factory for the month of March, the temporary closure of certain company divisions for wintering, the annual/seasonal decline in rubber production activities by farmers, and the oversupply of rubber on hand.
Firestone added, “So, please be aware that farmers are required to call in advance to book the days on which they will be allowed to bring their rubber for sale. A farmer can only book one vehicle load per day. A listing will be circulated daily at each entry gate. Any farmer whose name is not on that list will be turned away at the gate.”
According to them, “Once we reach the target amount set for each month, we will suspend rubber purchase immediately. Rubber Purchase will then resume the first working day of the following month under the same guidelines.”
However, the management of Firestone Liberia noted that it may be necessary for the company to suspend its rubber purchase operations again should there be a national emergency or inventory circumstances warranting such actions. “If it becomes necessary to suspend our rubber purchase operations, any shutdown and reopening information will be announced on radio, in local newspapers, and posted on noticeboards at Rubber Purchase and Carter Camp in Harbel, Margibi Country.”
At the same time, in keeping with the health measure and to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in Liberia, farmers will be required to observe the following protocols at all Firestone Liberia facilities–wearing of face masks, thorough hand-washing, and temperature checking at every entry gate.
The company reiterates that any farmer reporting abnormal temperature will be turned away, and farmers will have to observe social distancing amongst themselves when waiting to be served. Each vehicle carrying rubber will be allowed a maximum of two persons onboard – the driver and one escort, except where the vehicle contains rubber owned separately by more than one farmer.