More government assistance needed14 February 2005
The government is not doing enough to promote the local leather industry, a Unido official said last week. Ms Aurelia Calabro-Bellamoli said: 'Ethiopia is doing better than Kenya. The Ethiopian government has selected leather as a key sector and gives incentives to hides exporters.' Ethiopia is working on ways to increase the supply of hides and skins to local leathergoods producers and is supporting programmes to promote good livestock farming. She said poor animal husbandry in Kenya has resulted in low quality leather, citing cuts on animals, damage from ill-placed branding, and lack of a proper grading system for leather products as some of the factors. 'It is important to have a grading system based on the quality of the leather and not prices', she said. Dr Sam Kiruthu, who is the secretary of the Eastern and Southern Africa Leather Industries Association, said the industry's growth has been undermined by lack of access to credit and entrepreneurial skills. The sector has been on a downward trend for the last decade. According to Unido, between 1990-95, around 95% of the hides and skins were processed for export in crust and finished leather but now 15% is exported in semi or finished form while 85% is exported in raw.