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Rejuvenating Liberia's Rubber Plantations

Interviewees: Joel Strickland, President, Buchanan Renewable Energies
Lloyd Girman, CEO, Buchanan Renewable Energies
Interviewer: Stephanie Hanson
November 26, 2007

Liberia is best known for the civil war that lasted over a decade. But under President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the country is beginning to reconstruct itself from the ground up. One new investment project takes rubber trees and turns them into agrifuel. Joel Strickland and Lloyd Girman of Buchanan Renewable Energies discuss how their company is working to rejuvenate old rubber plantations and develop a domestic fuel industry that powers Liberia. Strickland says Buchanan is employing roughly three hundred Liberians, whom he describes as "incredibly enthusiastic, incredibly dedicated, skilled and hardworking."

Though Strickland acknowledges major infrastructure challenges in Liberia, he says "all of the positives vastly outweigh the negatives." As Buchanan's business developed, in fact, the company realized that a byproduct of the agrifuel production—the roots of the rubber trees—could be used for domestic electricity production. The company is currently working to develop a small generator to produce rural electricity, which it hopes could be adapted for use across Africa.

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