Saturday , July 24 2021

The lack of a standard leather policy is blamed for a surge in fake imports



By JAMES KARIUKI
Further by this author

The lack of a quality standard policy is to give consumers a leather product for a raw transaction.

Industry players noted that foreign traders and bag makers issued products made from resins as genuine, thus denying billions of shillings of the local sector.

This happened amid protests across the sector that Kenya exported jobs, income and allowed unscrupulous shoe and bag makers to sell products that looked good marked by genuine leather products.

"We have the capacity to provide Kenya with 40 million pairs of shoes every year, but the low price of cheap fake leather products has mushroomed the entire market, making Kenya a place to dump fake products that are quickly worn out after purchase," said Kariokor Cobblers Association spokesman Peter Kitheka.

Mr Kitheka, who has been in the leather sector for the past 30 years, said he had participated in various forums with senior government officials where it was agreed that standards for leather products were formulated and influenced.

"Why do we allow dangerous resin products to be sold to Kenya and then complain that Kenya is a land of cancer-related diseases. Kebs must be notified to not allow counterfeit products to be classified as leather, "he told participants last week in a workshop held to launch the Apex Society Society, a non-state entity to encourage growth in the sector.

It is estimated that Kenya loses up to Sh5 billion per year due to poor skin quality even when sub-sectors are allocated to be the main driver of added value.

The figure arrived through the estimated Sh3 billion that will be generated by the main producers and 2 billion which will be bagged by tanning through the export of better quality products.

A recent World Bank-funded study of the leather sector found that a lack of certification services hurt local prospects for growing the industry because good imports continued to be sold locally despite striking evidence that they were not genuine.

"At the end of value chain manufacturing, leather quality awards and introduction programs can be developed to encourage innovation and encourage competition based on different qualities and designs.

Finally, enforcement of quality standards can be improved, especially for imported products, "notes the study entitled Kenya's Leather Industry: Diagnosis, Strategy and Action Plan.

The survey found that local leather companies that enjoyed a global reputation such as Bata and Sandstorm struggled to increase their production levels to grow their respected brands under the Made in Kenya logo.

"The Kenya Leather Development Council, supported by Kebs, can take a leadership role in developing certification standards, which will guide training of workers and supervisors throughout the skin value chain," said the study published in 2015.

The meeting, which guarantees a joint effort to revive the local leather industry, heard that Kenya needs 44 million pairs of shoes every year but local companies only sell three million with 26.7 million synthetic products & # 39; imported.

"Kenya also imports 15 million more used shoes sold in the mitumba yard. Our problem is not the market but access to quality leather to make good Kenyan branded products because up to 95 percent of our semi-tanned leather is exported to leather factories for the manufacture of jackets, bags and shoes and belts, "said LASK secretary general Beatrice Mwasi .

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

The meeting heard that Kenya needed to invest in modern industrial machinery to facilitate shoemakers and other leather product makers to access finished goods.

Mr Kitheka welcomed the ongoing installation of a general manufacturing facility in Kariokor, Nairobi to be commissioned next February saying it would help improve the quality of their finished products which had been done manually in the past.

"This will increase revenue for 300 shoemakers in Kariokor who are now making sandals sold throughout East and West Africa," he observed.

Ethiopian leather industry enjoys the use of modern processing machines that facilitate mass production where the cost of making a pair of shoes is Sh728 compared to the Sh944 Kenya.

At present, the government is building a 500-hectare leather industrial park in Kinanie in Machakos Regency where it invites stakeholders to take space from leather tannery, leather manufacturing bases to exhibition stalls. This could make foreign leather product producers give incentives to open stores with the government that promises to place a ban on final exports for semi-finished leather.

Data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics shows that slaughterhouses in the country produce an average of 2.2 million cows and calves per year while sheep and goats come from 6.4 million.


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