With an estimated 21.3 million cattle, 15 million goats and 6.4 million sheep, as well as being Africa’s second largest in cattle herds and leather exports, it is surprising that Tanzania’s leather sub- sector has turned to be a bane rather than a boon, stakeholders say.
The industry is in a shambles, counting little in terms of job creation and poverty alleviation.
Though it has a huge potential in fighting poverty, it is receiving little backing from authorities and has been left to survive on its own, obeying the law of the jungle that is the order of the day.
Leather Association of Tanzania (LAT) secretary General Joachim Wakari told The Guardian on Sunday in a telephone interview from Dodoma that unfolding events at Vingunguti and Ukonga abattoirs in Dar es Salaam this week when slaughterers laid down their tools protesting against a levy increment “is a mockery to the wellbeing of the industry and not in the country’s interest.”
“Unscrupulous businessmen colluded with slaughterers at the abattoirs to send a bad signal to the public to believe that raw hides are in huge supply which is untrue,” said Wakari.
“There were some tannery factories like Morogoro Tanneries who were ready to buy the hides at whatever cost on that day but were denied the chance,” he stated.
He said the false impression aired on local television was manufactured by raw hides and skin exporters.
He advised the government to borrow a leaf from Uganda which banned export of raw hides and skins to attract investments in the sector, implying also job creation and technology to add value to the product.
“It is ridiculous for a country to export a piece of leather at USD 10 and at the same time import belts made of leather at USD 500,” he said