Michael Tome Business Reporter
TRADE development and promotion body, ZimTrade, will hold the Zimbabwe Tanneries Workshop in Bulawayo from May 20-21 2019 in conjunction with PUM, a Holland based organisation that specialises in giving technical assistance in diverse entrepreneurial fields.
The workshop intends to bring together local tanners and other relevant stakeholders to deliberate on issues upsetting the leather value chain.
The leather sector globally is a multi-billion dollar industry.
It will reflect on tanning practices in Zimbabwe and equip tanners with requisite knowledge on current international trends in the sector.
Presenters at the conference will include, STAHL (expert in leather- and performance coatings and dyes), PUM, Mendelson & Frost ( South African based Leather goods and footwear manufacturer), Solidaridad network, IM- Innovating of Netherlands and Mimosa Extracting Company (RSA).
According to the Leather Sector Strategy 2010-2017, Zimbabwe’s leather products and exports have been depressed , with an average export value of US$17,6 million per year since 2010.
However, since 2010 there has been a semblance of recovery with export statistics on the Trademap revealing an upward trajectory from US$18,6million in 2010 to US$36,9million in 2018.
Approximately US$34 million has been accounted from raw hides and reptile skins (crocodiles), while bovine skins accounted for US$1,3 million.
Conversations of the workshop will revolve around chemical applications, new technologies, equipment and waste management systems currently used in other countries. Local tanners are expected to speak on the history of the leather sector and possible recommendations to revive the sector.
ZimTrade says the workshop will carry forward the Government’s initiative under Ministry of Industry to revive the sector, which has potential to generate foreign currency and create jobs.
“In 2017, the Government, through funding support from the Africa Development Bank, embarked on Beef to Leather Value Chain Support Programme meant to identify challenges confronting players in the beef to leather value chain and our purpose is to expand on that and make sure we revive the staggering giant and major forex earner.
“The programme has since seen business development service providers and financial counsellors from Lupane University completing a training programme in market facilitation and financial coaching under the value chain project,” said ZimTrade in a statement.
Leather value chain has the potential to grow employment creation through value-addition programmes if adequate leather is supplied to downstream industries.
“Zimbabwe’s leather sector, once employed as many as 5 600 workers but is currently estimated to employ approximately 1500, proving an intervention in the sectors’ recovery is required,” said ZimTrade.
Research shows that the global hides, skins and leather products market was worth around $260 billion in 2016 and Zimbabwe’s contribution can be improved by implementing various reforms in the sector.
Zimbabwe’s leather and leather products have great potential for export to countries such as France, Italy, Singapore, America, the United Kingdom and Germany.
Regionally, Zimbabwe exports to South Africa and Zambia.