14 Jan
2020

Rubber Expert Leaves Liberia with more Value for Farmers

first_imgWith the global price of natural rubber having declined more than half its normal rate over the past year, literally crippling the value of one of Liberia’s chief economic staples, the intervention of Dr. LMK Tillekeratne, a well-known international rubber expert hired by GROW-Liberia, may not have been more timely. Dr. Tillekeratne was contracted by GROW-Liberia in April to provide technical assistance to introduce Ribbed Smoked Sheets (RSS), a value-added processed form of rubber. He spent the last two months preparing training manuals, and training rubber farmers in the production of quality RSS as well as improved exploitation of latex, and farm management. RSS are coagulated (gooey, viscous) rubber sheets processed from fresh latex. Different grades of RSS can be used for manufacture of products for automobile tyres or general products on the low end, and medical, pharmaceutical and engineering on the high end. While in the country, he trained and provided knowledge and information, alternative sources of revenue or sales channels for rubber as well as other channels that connect smaller farmers to firestone or to other rubber-related companies.During a farewell ceremony held in his honor yesterday, Dr. Tillekeratne provided an exit debriefing for all interested stakeholders about his findings, observations and activities on rubber farming in Liberia.While here, Dr. Tillekeratne met with a broad representation of rubber sector stakeholders, including the government, banks, the Rubber Planters Association of Liberia (RPAL), Business Cluster Developers (anchor businesses) and smallholder rubber farmers.On June 22-26, he conducted a major RSS production training event at the Learning Center at Bright Farm in Kakata. Approximately 75 rubber farmers and stakeholders attended the five days event. The training highlighted the collection of latex and the production of RSS, mixing, bulking, drying, smoking and packaging. The training will be replicated in the future at two other Learning Centers in Bomi and Bong counties.For his part, Stanford Peabody, Portfolio Manager of Grow Liberia thanked Dr. Tillekeratne for the opportunity and said that the debriefing was another form of awareness on RSS for farmers.GROW is a private sector development initiative operating in Liberia to promote pro-poor economic growth and stability through partnerships with Government and private companies. The programme is a 5-year Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA)-funded market development initiative that employs the ‘Making Markets Work for the Poor’ (M4P) approaches. In addition to promoting the increased profitability of smallholder farm operations, the programme seeks to contribute to sustainable growth and stability, with a particular emphasis on women and youth and the environment.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

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12 Jan
2020

Local company meeting the demand for value-added products

first_imgWhat started as a healthy lifestyle choice for a diabetic mother of five and her family is now on the cusp of being a thriving business that could generate employment for others.Owner and Manager of King Chezomi Manufacturing Enterprise, Hafeeza SmithHafeeza Smith, 35, of Lot 718 Number One Road, East Berbice Corentyne, is the proud manufacturer of a variety of locally produced organic products such as extra virgin coconut oil, macerated carrot oil, coconut flour, coconut snacks, among others under her company, King Chezomi Manufacturing Enterprise.Smith explained that after being diagnosed as a diabetic and having difficulty finding economically healthy products, she decided to begin experimenting in 2015 with extra virgin coconut oil. The innovator noted, when she began producing the oil it was on a small scale for herself, as well as friends and family.However, after receiving positive feedback, she was encouraged to increase her production. She said her friends would also share with others, and some customers took samples overseas.According to a feature done by Department of Public Information (DPI), Smith managed to perfect the formula in 2017 and heeded President David Granger’s call to become an entrepreneur after her husband suffered an injury and was out of a job for over three months. She began selling to neighbours who helped spread the word and the demand for her extra virgin coconut oil continued to increase.“After my husband’s injury … the money I was making came in useful, then I started to think should something happen to him what could I do because I was just a housewife. I tested the local market but many persons didn’t know much of the extra virgin coconut oil and only buy the regular ones.”The mother of five said she was determined to get others to eat healthily and approached a local printing company to assist in making her product labels more appealing. Smith said she then targeted the markets outside her region and overseas.A variety of the oils produced by Smith’s company King Chezomi Manufacturing EnterpriseRealising that people were craving healthy food, Smith decided to invest in mills and other equipment to produce on a larger scale while ensuring she maintained a high standard of consistency by working in hygienic conditions.Smith also attended a one-week workshop on adding value to agro-processing, hosted by the Guyana School of Agriculture (GSA). She now has plans to further enhance her already special extra virgin coconut oil by adding flavours and other unique ingredients to make it more appealing.Having gained the trust of her loyal customers and heeding their call to introduce more products, the enterprising innovator has moved on to producing coconut flour that can be used for everyday cooking and baking. The flour, she remarked, “is high in fibre and gluten-free, very healthy for persons who have gluten allergies, persons suffering from diabetes and hypertension.”Smith has set her sights on producing breadfruit flour, breadfruit chips, tomato powder and powered pepper among many other products in the near future.“My whole plan is to do healthy products which Guyanese can afford. There is no reason for us to use things that have ingredients in them that we can’t pronounce or things people say are good for us and we end up spending a lot of money but have no benefits.”Having grown up humbly and understanding the struggles of a housewife and working with a small budget for her five children aged two and a half to 15, she has decided to market her products at affordable prices to encourage customers to practice a healthier lifestyle.She is appealing to Guyanese, especially Berbicians, to get off the “import bandwagon.”“We have many locally produced items that are organic and healthier but many have this mindset that because it is a local item it is not good. We have to move away from that and invest in proper packaging and better conditions for maintaining excellent quality. The same items we refuse are being sold elsewhere for a lot of money,” Smith said.Smith’s ultimate goal is to expand her business and see her products lining the shelves of local supermarkets and stores countrywide.last_img read more

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