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Govt to add value to hides and skin, ban exports

Dar es Salaam: The government is considering banning the export of raw hides and skin in an effort to add value of the commodity as well as availing the raw materials to local industries. If this plan is implemented Tanzania, which exports 90 per cent of raw hides and skin annually will follow steps taken by Ethiopia, Nigeria, Sudan, Uganda and Zambia which have already banned exporting the products.

Tanzania’s present capacity is to produce 2.8 million cattle hides, 3.8million goat skin and 1.0m sheep skin a year, which is nearly 94 million square feet but it is capable of collecting only 62 million square feet. The tanneries capacity is to process 74m square feet raw hides and skin.

In his recent visit to Namanga border post, deputy minister of Industry and Trade, Lazaro Nyalandu said the move is meant to boost government revenue. 'We want to reverse this trend. We’re also looking into possibilities to allow more investors to chip-in and invest in processing leather products within the country. By doing so, we’ll add value to the products,' the minister said.

There are six tanneries in the country, namely Moshi Leather Industries, Tanzania Leather Industries, Afro Leather, Kibaha Tannery, Himo Tanners and Salex Tanners. However, they operate at below 50 per cent capacity. This allows large consignment export of raw hides and skin because the local tanning industry is unable to process the raw material owing to low performance and inherent inefficiency.

Statistics from the ministry of Livestock and Fisheries shows that there is a surplus of 1.5 metric tonnes of raw hides and skin above the capacity of the existing six tanneries.

Nyalandu revealed that plans are under way to establish a modern open livestock markets in pastoralists’ areas. 'This will provide an alternative to selling livestock to the neighbouring countries like Kenya,' he explained, without divulging the time-frame for the kick-start of the livestock markets.

Ali Korongo, a senior official of the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA), told the minister that goods exported to Kenya from Tanzania constitute only 30 per cent. 'We are planning to come up with a special livestock market, so that Kenyans would come here and buy cattle from this area,' he said.

Korongo said at present there is illegal exportation of raw hides and skin.

According to ministry sources, in 2006/07, a total of 1.98 million cattle hides, 1.52 million goat skins and 1.22 million sheep skins were collected. Of these, some 1.7 million hides, 1.05 million goat skin and 928,000 sheep skin worth $13million were exported, 80 per cent being in raw form with some 20 percent in semi processed form.

With a cattle population of only about 2.35 million, Botswana is one of few African countries whose leather sub-sector contributes significantly to the gross domestic product (GDP). The abundance of hides and skin form part of the livelihoods of Botswana people and creates employment opportunities for both rural and urban communities.

Hides and skin have for years stood as the most significant foreign exchange earner from Bostwana’s livestock sector. They are also important raw materials for the tanning industry and for the manufacture of finished leather and leather products/goods such as shoes, hand bags and belts.

17 October 2011
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