Stakeholders in the hide and skin sector have called on the government to implementof the National Leather Policy effectively to enhance the quality of leather products.
They made the call at an annual national conference in Abuja entitlled “Raw Material Sourcing and Innovative Research for Leather Industry: A Panacea to National Economic Transformation. ”
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the National Leather and Leather Products Policy is aimed at locally processing leather resources, instead of exporting raw leather or semi-finished leather products.
The implementation of the policy would lead to the creation of more tanneries and other small-scale factories across the country for the processing of leather and leather related products.
The President of Society of Leather Technologists and Chemists of Nigeria (SLTCN), Dr. Solomon Tanko, said that if the implemention of the policy would also re-position the country’s leather industry to attract investments.
He also urged leather producers to adopt best practices of international standards in leather production so that ” Nigerian leather can be fit for export and receive international recognition.
Tanko expressed concern about the quality of leather products in Nigeria, adding that the country had been grappling with the challenge of being recognised at international leather market.
”A high percentage of the leathers produced from hides and skins in the country are of low quality due to poor quality of hides and skins arising from non-adherence to best practices.
”It is, therefore, pertinent for the country to adopt international best practices that will enhance our raw material and productivity,” he said.
Tanko said that the theme was adopted to look into the challenges facing the leather industry in the country.
He noted most tannery chemicals used on leather were being imported and this increased production cost and accessibility.
He urged the government to put the leather sector in the high perspective by fully implementing Leather Product Policy.
According to him, the sector which seems to have been neglected, has a global trade value of more than 100 billion dollars.
He said that SLTCN encouraged collaboration with relevant agencies towards the development of the leather industry.
In his presentation, the Director-General of the Nigerian Institute of Leather and Science Technology (NILEST), Dr Eucharia Oparah, noted that the leather industry occupied a prominent place in the country, capable of providing employment and wealth.
”Being a major productive sector next to the petroleum industry in terms of foreign exchange earning, leather is considered critical in achieving economic diversification,” he said.
She, however, noted that there were imminent challenges facing the industry which could be addressed with proper implementation of the National Leather policy.
Oparah noted that the National Leather and Leather Products Policy came in existence to facilitate the development of the sector.
Also speaking, the Director-General/Chief Executive Officer, Raw Materials, Research and Development Council (RMRDC), Dr Ibrahim Hussaini, noted that the country had robust raw materials at its disposal which when harnessed could help increase revenue and employment generation.
NAN reports that the Federal Executive Council (FEC), had in October 2018 approved National Leather and Leather Products Policy while the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, inaugurated the National Steering Committee to implement the policy in March.