Monday , October 3 2022

The lack of leather policy standards has been accused of increasing false imports


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The lack of quality standards policy gives consumers of leather products a raw deal.

Industry operators noted that foreign merchants and bag makers are selling resin products as genuine, thus denying the local billions of shillings.

This is despite the protests across the industry that Kenya has exported jobs, revenues, and has allowed unscrupulous shoe and bag makers to sell good quality products that are characterized as "genuine" leather products.

"We have the ability to offer Kenyans 40 million pairs of shoes a year, but cheap counterfeit leather products have multiplied across the market by making Kenya an oil tanker for fake products that are quickly worn once bought," said Kariokor Cobblers Association spokesman Peter Kitheka.

Mr Kitheka, who has been active 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 do we allow harmful resin products to be sold to Kenyans and then complain about the fact that Kenya is a country with cancer-related diseases. Kebs must be advised not to allow fake products classified as skins, "he told participants last week at a workshop convened to launch the Leather Apex Society, a non-state entity that will promote growth in the field.

Kenya is estimated to lose up to $ 5 billion annually due to poor skin quality, even when the sub-sector is intended to be a key factor in value-added growth.

The figure comes through an estimate of the 3 billion billion that would have been won by the primary producers and the $ 2 billion that would have been packed by tanneries by exporting better quality products.

A recent study by the World Bank on Deep Diving in the leather sector found that the lack of certification services hit local industry prospects, as good imports continued to be sold locally, despite the tough evidence that they were not genuine.

"At the end of the value chain, leather quality awards and recognition programs can be developed to promote innovation and promote competition based on their distinct quality and design.

Finally, the imposition of quality standards can be increased, especially for imported products, "said the study Kenya Leather Industry: Diagnosis, Strategy and Action Plan.

The survey found that local leather companies that enjoy world-class reputation like Bata and Sandstorm tried to increase their production levels to grow their favorite brands with the Made in Kenya logo.

"Kenya's Skin Development Council, with Kebs' support, can play a leading role in developing certification standards that will guide training of workers and supervisors across the skin value chain," the study published 2015.

The meeting, which took care of concerted efforts to revive the local leather industry, heard Kenya demanding 44 million pairs of shoes per year but local businesses sold only three million with 26.7 million synthetic leather products imported.

"Kenya also introduces another 15 million shoes sold in mitumba.Our problem is not the market but access to quality leather to make good Kenya products, as up to 95% of the semi-finished leathers from our tanners are exported to leather factories for jackets, bags and shoes, as well as belts, "LASK Secretary General Beatrice Mwasi said.

Mwasi added that their main task would be to bring all the players to a table and speak with one voice seeking solutions to their problems.

The meeting heard that Kenya should invest in modern industrial machines to make it easier for smokers and other manufacturers of leather products to access good finished products.

Mr Kitheka welcomed the continued installation of a joint production facility in Kariokor, Nairobi, which will be operational next February, indicating that it will contribute to improving the quality of finished products made in the past by hand .

"It will improve profits for the 300 Kariokor stone pavement that now builds sandals that are sold all over Eastern and Western Africa," he noted.

Ethiopian skin industries enjoy the use of modern processing machines that facilitate mass production where the cost of manufacturing a pair of implants is Sh728 compared to Kenya's Sh944.

Currently, the government has a 500-hectare industrial park in Kinanie in Machakos County, where it has called on interested parties to occupy space from tanneries, leather constructions to exhibition benches. This could lead foreign manufacturers of leather products to be encouraged to put the store on the government promises to impose a possible export ban on semi-finished leather.

Data from Kenya's National Bureau of Statistics show that slaughterhouses in the country are home to an average of 2.2 million cattle and calves a year, while sheep and goats come from 6.4 million.

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