Chris Simba of the UKaid supported Kenya Markets Trust has said that the country’s hides and skins subsector is underutilised, with the bulk of products being neglected to waste or being sold at throwaway prices, despite an increased demand for hides and skins both in the region and globally.
A report on analysis of the livestock subsector showed that in the long term, demand for meat, hides and skins will increase with the growing population, urbanisation and improvement in economic performance.
The comments were supported by Isaac Noor, CEO of the Kenya Leather Development Council, who said that while Kenya exports 90 percent of its leather in raw form (semi-processed wet blue), just 10 percent is exported as a finished product.
Kenya commands less than 1 percent (Ksh 21 billion) of the global leather industry which is worth in excess of Ksh 150 trillion. Simba attributes this to limited incentives to invest in tanneries and leather manufacturing plants.
He added that despite the liberalisation of the livestock subsector and agriculture, the market structure remains uncompetitive with a few players participating in livestock markets as well as the tanning segments of the value chain.
“There is a need for the government to shift from the traditional policy formulation to the adoption of new roles to respond effectively to rapidly evolving market conditions,” he said.