Rumbidzayi Zinyuke Manicaland Bureau
STAKEHOLDERS in the beef and leather industry are lobbying Government for a policy waiver to enable them to export raw hides they cannot utilise to curtail possible losses and generate revenue for the economy.
Speaking at an industry stakeholder meeting in Mutare recently, director of Board Hides and Skin Mr John Batirai said local tanneries had no capacity to absorb all the hides coming from the abattoirs hence they usually ended up rotting before they could be sold.
“Some of the policies that have been put in place are affecting us because we cannot export raw hides but local tanneries are failing to absorb all the hides so they end up rotting in the abattoirs and they have to absorb the cost,” he said.
He said the treatment cost of a hide was $13, 50 yet the hide was selling for about $7 leaving them with no option but to throw the hides away.
“The leather value chain has a great potential to generate foreign currency for the country and if Government revisits some of these policies that affect us, we can realise that potential,” said Mr Batirai.
In 2013, Government introduced a levy of $0, 75 on every kilogramme of raw hide for export, a move that was expected to boost value addition in the leather industry, as well as curtail the exportation of raw hides by local abattoirs.
However, the collapse of the country’s leather sector over the past two decades has seen it failing to absorb all raw hides and skins that are produced locally, leaving raw hide exports as the only viable option available to merchants.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, Mrs Abigail Shonhiwa said exporters were expected to make applications to export hides and the permits were granted by the Ministry of Agriculture.
“The idea is that we would want to make sure that these hides are processed at least and we add value before we export them. What has been happening is that people have been applying for permits to export hides. The permits are granted by the Ministry of Agriculture. As a Ministry we help by making follow ups on permits that might have taken long to be processed,” she said.
Zimbabwe is set to launch its second leather industry strategy next month, which is expected to boost production and ultimately trade in the region.