Wednesday , March 3 2021

The lack of a standard leather policy that has led to increased fake imports

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The absence of a quality policy standard gives consumers of leather products a rough business.

Industry players have warned that foreign merchants and bag manufacturers are transferring resin products that are real, with the local sector denying billions of shillings.

This is despite the widespread protests that Kenya has exported jobs, revenue and allowed unscrupulous shoes and bags manufacturers to sell products that are well labeled "genuine" leather goods.

"We have the capacity to provide Kenyans with 40 million pairs of shoes annually, but low-cost cheap low-cost leather products have expanded the entire market, making Kenya a repository for fake products that quickly wear out," said Kikiokor Cobblers spokesman Peter Kithek .

Mr Kithek, who has been in the leather industry for the past 30 years, said he had participated in various forums with senior government officials, where it was agreed to develop and implement standards for leather products.

"Why are we allowed to sell harmful resin products to the Kenyan people and complain that Kenya is the country of cancer-related diseases." Kebs has to be informed that he does not allow any forged products that are classified as leather, "he told participants last week at a workshop was convened to establish Leather Apex Society, a non-state entity that promotes growth in this sector.

Kenya is estimated to lose up to $ 5 billion a year due to the poor quality of leather, although the subsector is dedicated to the key driver of increasing value addition.

The figure was achieved through an estimated $ 3 billion to be earned by primary producers and Sh2 billion that would be looted by producers with trawls by exporting better quality products.

A recent World Bank-financed study on the leather sector found that the lack of certification services is detrimental to the local growth prospects of the industry, since good imports continued to be sold locally, despite evident evidence that they were not real.

"At the end of the value chain production it is possible to develop quality leather bonuses and recognition programs in order to stimulate innovation and promote competition based on different quality and design.

Last but not least, it is possible to increase the enforcement of quality standards, especially for imported products, "wrote a study titled Kenyan Leather Industry: Diagnosis, Strategy and Action Plan.

The survey showed that local leather companies enjoying worldwide reputation, such as Bata and Sandstorm, had pains to increase their production levels in order to develop their famous brands under the logo of Made and Kenya.

"The Kenyan Development Council, supported by Kebs, can take the lead in developing certification standards that will guide the training of workers and supervisors throughout the leather chain," said a study released in 2015.

The meeting, which supported a concerted effort to revive the local leather industry, has heard that Kenya needs 44 million pairs of shoes annually, but local companies have sold only three million with 26.7 million synthetic leather products.

"Kenya is importing 15 million second-hand shoes sold in the Mitumba shipyards. Our problem is not the market, but access to quality leather for the production of good products from Kenya, as up to 95 percent of semi-finished products from our machineries are exported to leather factories for making jackets, bags and shoes, as well as belts, "said Secretary General of the LASK Beatrice Mwasi.

Ms Mwasi added that the main task is to bring all players to the table and speak with one voice in finding solutions to their problems.

The meeting heard that Kenya should invest in modern industrial machines in order to make it easier for coanners and other leather product manufacturers to access well-finished items.

Mr Kithek welcomed the ongoing installation of a joint production facility in Kariokor in Nairobi, due to be commissioned in February, as it will help to improve the quality of finished products that were hand-made in the past.

"This will improve the earnings of 300 cobblers in Kariocor, which are now making sandals sold through eastern and western Africa," he warned.

The Ethiopian leather industry enjoys the use of modern machineries that facilitate mass production, where the cost of manufacturing a pair of breadcrumbs Sh728 versus Kenya Sh944.

At present, the government in Kinánia, in the Machakos district, is setting up an industrial park with an area of ​​500 hectares, inviting stakeholders to get the space from engineers, production bases to manufacture leather to exhibition areas. This could be perceived by foreign producers of leather products who have encouraged trade with the government that would promise to introduce a possible ban on exports for processed leather.

Data from the National Statistics Office of Kenya show that slaughterhouses in the country account for an average of 2.2 million cattle and calves annually, while sheep and goats originate at 6.4 million.

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