Friday , June 18 2021

The lack of a policy on leather standards is blamed for an increase in false imports



Authors JAMES KARIUKI
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Lack of policy in the field of quality standards gives consumers of raw products a raw offer.

Market participants have noticed that foreign traders and bag makers donate products made of resin as real, which deprives local sectors of billions of shillings.

This is despite protests in the entire sector, that Kenya has exported jobs, revenues, and allowed unscrupulous manufacturers of footwear and bags to sell good-looking products marked with "real" leather goods.

"We have the capacity to supply Kenyans 40 million pairs of shoes a year, but cheap, cheap leather products have multiplied the entire market, making Kenya a landfill of fake products that will be consumed quickly when bought," said Kariokor Cobblers Association spokesman Peter Kitheka.

Mr Kitheka, who has been working in the leather industry for 30 years, said he was involved in various forums with senior civil servants, where it was agreed that standards for leather goods would be formulated and implemented.

"Why do we allow the sale of harmful resin products to Kenyans, then we complain that Kenya is a country of cancer-related diseases, Kebs must be told not to let fake products classed as skin," he told participants last week during a workshop organized to introduce Leather Apex Society, a non-state entity that promotes growth in this sector.

It is estimated that Kenya loses up to 5 billion shillings a year due to poor skin quality, even if the subsector is a key driver of added value growth.

This figure was based on an estimated value of 3 billion shillings that would have been obtained by primary producers and 2 billion shillings that would have been paid for by tanneries by exporting better quality products.

A recent study by the World Bank on a deep investigation into the leather sector has shown that the lack of certification services is detrimental to the local development prospects of the industry because good-looking imports are still sold on the spot, despite clear proof that they are not original.

"At the end of the value chain, you can develop rewards and programs on skin quality to stimulate innovation and promote competition based on outstanding quality and design.

Finally, the enforcement of quality standards can be increased, especially for imported products, 'noted the study' Leather industry in Kenya: diagnosis, strategy and action plan '.

The study found that local leather reputation companies such as Bata and Sandstorm were striving to increase the scale of their production to get recognized brands under the name Made in Kenya.

"The Skin Development Council of Kenya, supported by Kebs, can play a leading role in developing certification standards that will guide the training of employees and supervisors throughout the entire value chain of the skin," says a report published in 2015.

The meeting, which resulted in joint efforts to revive the local leather industry, proved that Kenya requires 44 million pairs of shoes per year, but local companies have sold only three million imported 26.7 million synthetic "skin" products.

"Kenya is also importing another 15 million used shoes that are sold on involuntary markets, our problem is not the market, but access to high quality leather to produce Kenya brand products, because up to 95 percent of semi-processed leather from our tanneries is exported to leather factories for the production of jackets, bags and shoes, as well as belts. ' said LASK secretary general Beatrice Mwasi.

Ms. Mwasi added that their main task would be to bring all players to the table and speak with one voice in search of solutions to their problems.

During the meeting, it was heard that Kenya must invest in modern industrial machinery to facilitate shoemakers and other producers of leather goods access to well-finished articles.

Mr Kitheka welcomed the ongoing installation of the joint manufacturing plant in Kariokor in Nairobi, which is due to be put into service in February, which will help to improve the quality of finished products that were hand-made in the past.

"This will improve the salary for 300 shoemakers in Kariokor, who now make sandals sold in eastern and western Africa," he noted.

The leather industry in Ethiopia uses modern machining machines that facilitate mass production, where the cost of producing moccasins is Sh728 compared to Sh944 in Kenya.

Currently, the government is building a 500-hectare industrial park from leather at Kinana in Machakos County, where it invited stakeholders to take up space from tannery, leather production bases to exhibition stands. This could mean that foreign producers of leather goods were encouraged to buy from the government store promising to impose a final ban on the export of semi-processed leather.

Data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics show that slaughterhouses in the source country have an average of 2.2 million cattle and calves per year, while sheep and goats come from 6.4 million.


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