The government has been urged to improve the ailing hides and skin industry since it has great potential to contribute towards economic development of Tanzania.
Speaking to this paper in Dar es Salaam on Monday, a livestock stakeholder, Samson Makubi, said the government has done little in improving the sector, hence denies income to the individuals and nation.
Current Statistics indicate that the country has a population of over 20.8 million Cattle, 14.1 million goats and 3.6 million sheep.
“This provides an important renewable locally available resource namely hides and skins which has considerable potential to generate sizeable export earnings,” he said.
Hides and Skins are also important raw materials for the tanning industry and for the manufacture of finished leather and leather goods such as belts, shoes, hand bags and wallets.
Statistics indicate that in the year 2006/07 a total of 1.98 million hides, 1.52 million goat skins and 1.22 million sheep skins were collected.
Of these about 1.7 million hides, 1.05 million goat skins and 0.928 million sheep skins worth USD 13.m were exported, 80 percent being in raw and 20 percent in semi processed form.
He said the other challenge which is facing livestock sector is poor quality of the hides and skins.
It is estimated that almost half of the hides and skins, entering the commercial processing chain is down graded, mainly due to poor animal husbandry practices, poor handling of the hides and skins at the slaughter facilities/ abattoirs, poor storage and preservation methods and inadequate enforcement of the existing law.
“This problem of quality caused by defects extends to each of the subsequent stages of processing of the leather, thus ultimately determining the price paid to the primary producer and of the semi processed or an end product”, he said.
Another stakeholder identified as Job Lamile said collection of hides and skins from rural areas which involves a number of middlemen is also associated with some bottlenecks such as lack of transparency in trading and low entrepreneur skills.
He urged the country to increase the number of tanneries, technology and bring fair competition among exporters.
A critical analysis of the leather sector which was undertaken by Government in collaboration with stakeholders with the assistance from UNIDO revealed that the problems associated with the sector can only be sufficiently addressed through a holistic approach constituting interventions that target the whole value chain.
According to the Ministry of Livestock development and fisheries in an endeavour to revitalise the leather sector, there have been a number of interventions.
These include preparation and the subsequent endorsement of a cabinet paper 2/2003 which contains a number of directives meant to address the existing constraints.
A notable intervention is the imposition of the 20 percent export levy (increased to 40 percent ) as a measure to encourage local processing.
The proceeds of the levy will be utilised to address among other things, problems that hinder the development of this important sector.