Zambeef Product’s Zamleather division has embarked on a US$100,000 investment expansion programme to boost the leather industry by the end of 2015.
Zamleather general manager Richard Franklin said working with other partners elsewhere in the region could add value to products in Zambia.
Mr Franklin said it was important for the industry to be given much attention and support if it was to expand more and create employment for the benefit of the local people.
He said the industry was intending to add about more than five outlets of Zamleather throughout the country, so that all the people were reached.
Mr Franklin said currently the industry produced about 6,000 tonnes of hides in a month, and that it was expected that it would produce up to 10,000 tonnes on a monthly basis and a further 2,000 per month under contract at Kembe.
He said the tannery was operating at full capacity in Lusaka and was looking to expand facilities to process 10,000 hides per month at the beginning of 2016.
He said the industry was establishing enough market for the export of the crust leather.
“Now that we have the Leathery Industry Association, we will be able to coordinate ourselves to improve the market,” Mr. Franklin said.
He said struggling with the availability of raw hides had been a challenge on account that sometimes it was smuggled out, making it difficult for the industry to boost its business.
Mr Franklin explained that in most cases good quality raw hides were smuggled out of the country which had become a challenge and that they depended on low quality hides which were not profitable.
He said he was hopeful that with the new Leathery Industry Association the smuggling of hides would be curbed.
Currently, Zamleather had a workforce of 167, and were exporting their products to South Africa, China, Turkey, Spain and India.
And Commerce and Industry permanent secretary Siakalenge Siazongo said there was need to support the domestic market to boost the Zamleather industry if more employment was to be created.
Mr Siazongo called on the institutions and companies to support the local suppliers to build the local products so that they could as well feel the benefit.
He said a company such as Zamshu was making more efforts to reach remote areas so that farmers could benefit from such ventures through supplying skins, which were a source of their income.
Mr Siazongo said the Ministry of Commerce would engage and cooperate with other stakeholders in ensuring that everything was in the process, as the Zamshu industry expanded its industry for the benefit of the Zambian people.
“As Government, we will ensure institutions such as the mines, education and many more subscribe to such and ensure they buy local products from such companies that are making effort at improving the livelihood of the local people,” he said.