Natasha Chamba, Business Reporter
ABATTOIRS have been accused of taking advantage of farmers to make huge profits in the leather value chain by exporting hides with no gain to the farmer.
Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union vice president, Mr Winston Babbage, yesterday said measures should be put in place to ensure farmers benefit from the sale of hides from their beasts.
He was speaking on the sidelines of the ongoing tanneries workshop hosted by ZimTrade in conjunction with PUM from Netherlands at a hotel in Bulawayo.
“The abattoirs are tricky. They take advantage of the system.
“Throughout the whole value chain they create vertical integration and that is what is killing the sector,” said Mr Babbage.
“Farmers barely get anything for their hides, everything is taken away from them at the slaughter house.
“Something must be done about this injustice. Measures should be put in place to make sure farmers benefit something.”
Mr Babbage said the reason why tanners were getting low quality hides was because farmers were not taking care of the hides saying they cannot take care of hides they do not benefit from.
“In as much as abattoirs do outgrower schemes, tanneries should look into investing in outgrower schemes so that they get good hides, which can be used for export.”
PUM representative Mr Hans Akkerman said Government should intervene and bring order to the sector.
“Farmers should be educated about their rights and on how they can benefit from producing good quality hides.
“The farmers should be organised in a way that they produce quality products from the beef to the hide even if it means Government will interfere by offering incentives to the farmers,” he said.
Tanners who attended the workshop said they were incapacitated financially and lacked advanced machines in producing good quality hides.
They also highlighted that a majority of the quality hides were going through the formal slaughter houses who were exporting them directly to the region and beyond, leaving the tanners without a constant supply of quality hides.
Meanwhile, Mr Akkerman said from PUM’s research on the leather value chain in Zimbabwe, they saw it befitting to launch a pilot programme on bettering the whole leather value chain from the farmer to the consumer.
“Two years ago we were asked to do a scoping for the leather value chain. As a result of that we sent our experts to over 15 missions in various companies within the Zimbabwe leather chain and we found out it can be improved extensively,” he said.
“The tanneries are at the middle of the value chain and it is hard for them to produce quality output if they are getting sub-standard hide.
“The best way we figured we could better the value chain was to come up with a pilot programme where we could engage from the farmer’s end to the consumer’s end.
“The programme will be done on a small-scale basis, so that it is manageable and we can control it.”
Mr Akkerman said the programme would start in Bulawayo given its centrality to the leather sector before being rolled out to the rest of Zimbabwe.
“If the programme is managed well it will also attract investors into the Zimbabwean leather value chain,” he said. — @queentauruszw
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