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Govt’s Sh750 million leather factory kicks off in Narok

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Operations at the Sh750 million Mega Tannery and Leather factory constructed by the government at Ewaso Nyiro area in Narok South Sub County has finally kicked off.

The factory built by Ewaso Nyiro South Development Authority (ENSDA) is a major boost for the government as manufacturing is one of the four pillars the Jubilee government targets to pursue in its second term for economic growth.

Speaking to KNA, the Corporation’s Managing Director Sammy Leporos said the factory, with a capacity to process 13 tons of hides and skins per day, would be among the few in the country that processes leather to the final product.

“The construction began two years ago and the factory is now operational targeting to get the raw materials from livestock farmers in Narok, Nakuru and Kajiado counties,” he said.

Leporos said the factory is now processing 1.5tons of hides and skins to the ‘wet blue’ (not fully processed leather) and would be doing 13 tons once it reached full operation.

“The tannery is well-equipped and we are now doing trials to ensure that all the equipment are operating well and so far all is well,” said Leporos.

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Annually, the factory will be processing 10, 000 tons of hides and skins and will be a game changer in the value-addition of livestock by-products which had been overlooked for years.

“We expect to fetch a minimum of Sh180 million annually from the industry. This will be a big boost to the Kenyan economy.”

Sammy Leporos

Managing Director, Ewaso Nyiro South Development Authority (ENSDA)

Leporos said the factory would be buying hides and skins at over 10 times the current price saying the hides which are currently bought at Ksh120 would increase to between Ksh1,500 to Ksh2,000 while skins prices would go up to Ksh200 to Ksh300 depending on the size and quality.

The MD added that the factory would largely be depending on the over 10 abattoirs across the county and would create over 1,000 jobs directly and indirectly.

The factory, he said, has an effective Effluent Treatment Plant which uses reverse osmosis thus being environment-friendly.

However, Leporos lamented the poor quality of hides/skins of the pastoral counties owing to poor animal husbandry techniques.

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“Factors such as traditional branding using hot iron rods damage the animal’s skin thus affecting the quality of the hides and skins in the process,” the MD regretted.

He said in a bid to improve the quality and boost farmer’s income, the Authority is set to launch mega capacity building to train farmers on the breeds and modern animal husbandry techniques.

“We shall be training farmers on ways to boost the quality of the skin using alternative branding such as use of hydrogen peroxide and name tags to ensure that we get the quality hides to process quality leather for the export market.”

Sammy Leporos.

The MD also roots for improvement of the livestock breeds from the traditional zebu to sahiwal and borana which he said had large body masses thus huge skins adding that the factory would also be receiving quality raw materials from across the Rift Valley.

He said market for leather products was immense and so far, they had received orders from China and the United States of America putting the country at par with other countries including neighbouring Ethiopia and Botswana.

ENSDA will also construct a ‘Leather Park’ near the factory where Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) would be using the by-products of the leather to make items such as shoes, ornaments, and handbags for sale to boost the local economy.

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On human resource, Leporos said they had attained quality technical skills from other established factories in a bid to save on training costs.

In the leather industry, the government targets to produce over 20 million pairs of shoes by 2022, while increasing export revenue in the industry to Sh50 billion in the next five years.

Despite Kenya being the third largest in Africa as far as cattle rearing is concerned, the country buys 30 million pairs of shoes a year.

The factory’s Production Officer Haron Githongo looks at the machinery at the Tannery and Leather Factory located in Narok South Sub County. (Photo: Ann Salaton, KNA)

Leporos noted that being located near the world famous Maasai Mara, the factory will boost the economy of the region as it would  produce leather goods, among them jackets, shoes and bags that would tap into the tourist market too.

He said ENSDA would be partnering with Leather Development Council, Kenya Investment Authority, Export Processing Zone and Ethiopia who were the major competitor in the industry in Africa.

READ : FROM POOR EMPLOYEE TO A LEATHER MAGNET

Ewaso Nyiro area is said to be home to the largest number of livestock in the Northern Mara and largest cattle market in the region but lacks proper infrastructure to support the livestock industry.

Narok County has a livestock population of 1.2million beef cattle, 300, 000 dairy cows, 1.6 million sheep and 880, 000 goats thus, livestock is an important economic resource for the county and the country as a whole.

A livestock farmer from Melelo ward in Narok South Sub County Antony Ole Mentila said the factory would boost the economy of the residents as they would get profit even from the hides and skins that were hitherto not sold.

“We used to use hides and skins as beddings, clothing, making calabashes and drum sets. We expect to make more money from the hides and skins now that the factory has been built in our locality,” he said.

SEE ALSO : COURT SHUTS DOWN FACTORY

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