Botswana urged to commercialise leather industry

14 August 2006

Kenya's Eastern and Southern Leather Industries Association (ESLA) chief executive Dr Samuel Kiruthu has urged Botswana to take advantage of the abundance of hides and skins and commercialise their leather industry. Kiruthu, based in Nairobi, believes that Botswana should establish its own tanneries to produce good quality products for domestic use rather than exporting raw materials. 'Understand that the cost, knowledge and skills are important tools for sustainability,' Kiruthu said. He recommended that Botswana diversify and stop depending on minerals for its development, adding that the establishment of a leather industry would be a step in the right direction. He said it was disheartening to see Botswana importing a lot of leather when most of the raw materials are produced in the country. A three-year project on the commercialisation of hides and skins, partly funded by Common Fund for Committees (CFC) was begun in 2003 with the aim of improving collection and quality in small-holder farming systems. According to Mosielele, of the Ministry of Agriculture, commercialising the leather industry would also help fight poverty and reduce unemployment. He appealed to participants to form strong associations and lobby government for better skin and hides prices. Project co-ordinator Lesitamang Paya said since the project's inception, the collection of hides and skins had increased from 150kg to 200kg and the quality of these products improved from 78% to 90% for first and second grades. He added that six demonstration centres had been constructed at Seronga, Satau, Kachikau, Kavimba, Parakarungu and Mabele including eleven slaughterhouses at Mokubilo, Mookane, Mahalapye, Gumare, Mosojane, Charleshill, Hukuntsi, Nata, Rakops and Shakawe.

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