The State Department of Livestock is tasking counties to invest more in the livestock sector to help improve trade in leather and hides.
Speaking during the opening of a Hides, Skins and Leather Development Strategy Workshop in Machakos on Monday, the State Department of Livestock Principal Secretary (PS), Harry Kimtai said county governments must take action to avoid compromising the quality of skins and hides being taken to the market.
“The mandate of handling hides and skins is vested in State Department of Livestock. This entails the proper care of all hides and skins while the animal is alive and even after it has been slaughtered. Therefore, there is need to take care of the hides and skins by observing good animal husbandry through proper dieting and cleansing of the animal,” he said during the start of the three day workshop being held at the Gelian Hotel.
The PS noted that with privatisation of the veterinary sector, livestock rearing has been affected to a great deal due to an influx of self-styled veterinary officers leading to under dosing of animals during treatment thus exposing livestock to the risk of becoming resistant to convectional acaricides.
He cited East Coast Fever and Lumpy Skin disease as some of the major threats to the skin and leather industry and called for concerted efforts among counties in controlling the diseases by undertaking a common vaccination campaign to curb the spread of the diseases to other counties.
“We want to bring on board the county governments in our efforts to curb the spread of livestock diseases since they are the main arena in livestock industry. For us to curb the spread of skin diseases and other livestock diseases such as Foot and Mouth, counties should ensure no livestock move to neighbouring counties during outbreaks. Counties should similarly not issue movement permits to traders once a quarantine has been imposed to avoid cross border transmission of such diseases,” he added during the meeting which has been attended by participants form the 47 counties.
Among those attending the forum which will also be used in validating the Hides, Skins and Leather Development Strategy include representatives from the Hides and Skin Dealers Association, Leather and Apex Society of Kenya and Kenya Foot Wear Manufacturers Association.
Kimtai said the government was directing counties operating donkey abattoirs to increase the breeding of the animals to avoid running out of stock due to the rising demand for their skins by the Chinese market.
The PS said among strategies that would help salvage the donkeys from uncontrolled slaughter include limiting the number of animals to go for slaughter through issuance of permits to farmers.
He similarly cited the ongoing trade wars between China and USA as an affront to the sale of hides and skins in Kenya and insisted that for the country which loses 60 per cent of its skins and hides due to poor processing, much needs to be done to attract international buyers.
“The trade wars between USA and China have also contributed to the low prices offered for hides and skins. This leaves a large volume of hides and skins in the hands of traders with nowhere to offload. Now export of dried hides to West Africa has increased and this poses a threat to the gains already made in its improvement. The loss incurred during these stages of hides and skins improvements are immense to our nation and therefore, requires a concerted effort in order to realise the economic potential of our leather industry,” said the PS.
The Director of Veterinary Services Dr. Obadiah Njagi urged county governments to revive the use of cattle dips in a bid to fight ticks and lumpy skin disease.
Dr. Njagi assured County governments that the national government through the Kenya Veterinary Vaccines Production Institute (KEVEVAPI) has stocked enough vaccines for farmers in combating livestock diseases.
It is estimated that the demand for leather and leather goods in the world is growing faster than the supply.
Global trade is estimated to be growing at over US $ 100 billion a year with leather foot wear accounting about US $ 53.5 billion on 2013 alone.
Kenya, according to a 2013 report by the Department of Veterinary Services exported only US $ 140 million or 0.14 percent of world leather exports in 2013.
By Samuel Maina/Lyidia Mutanu