Ngamiland farmers find P3.3m hides market in Zimbabwe

Ngamiland farmers touring a leather factory in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe recently
Ngamiland farmers touring a leather factory in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe recently

MAUN: There is a hides market worth aproximately P3.3 million in Zimbabawe due to shortages of cattle, Ngamiland farmers who recently visited Botswana’s neighbour for benchmarking were told.

As part of the United Nations Development Programme, Ngamiland’s Sustainable Land Management (SLM) Programme community members recently toured Zimbabwe to benchmark on the country’s leather industry. They toured the Leather Institute of Zimbabwe, which coordinates the leather sector and the country’s tanneries to learn how Zimbabwe conducts its leather industry.

From the tour, an opportunity emerged for Ngamiland farmers who are hard hit by foot and mouth disease and have been without consistent market for their cattle for eight years -- since the 2007 Habu outbreak.

Sydney Mutambirwana, who consulted for the SLM project, said a more than P3.3 million monthly business existed in Zimbabwe for the Ngamiland farmers following the tour. Zimbabwe slaughters 80, 000 cattle monthly, but the market needed at least 150,000 hides per month.

“During the tour, the Zimbabweans have made it clear that they need more cattle and cattle hides,” he said.

He said wet blue hide was in high demand throughout the world, including in Zimbabwe which has a budding leather industry that was trying to recover from the country’s economic crisis. Zimbabwe is the third largest  producer of leather in Africa after Ethiopia and South Africa. The leather industry is valued at more than US$9 billion in Africa.

SLM project officer, Phemelo Ramalefo explained that one of the aims of the SLM project was to help foot and mouth ravaged farmers in the Ngamiland area to find alternative markets for their livestock products. He said the Zimbabwean tour was held in line with the SLM target of providing an enabling environment for the establishment of small scale community based enterprises related to processing and marketing of livestock products such as hides, horn, and bones from both cattle and small stock.

To achieve this outcome, farmers, merchants and policy makers are brought together to explore the feasibility of establishing an inclusive livestock value chain as well as other available opportunities for the establishment of small industries based on non-meat livestock products. He said they toured Zimbabwe as it has a viable leather industry encapsulating all the sectors of the chain from small to big operators.

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