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Eritrea’s Processed Hides Highly Preferred in International Markets for Their Collagen Fiber Content

Keih Bahri Tannery
Leather and leather products have been utilized for making household items, cloths and books of large volumes such as parchments which are known for their durability. Even though in a fewer number, books of such volume are still found in different monasteries of the country. Through making observations on different museum pieces, one could notice the country’s hides and skins products of the ancient times that harbor huge wealth of tradition and academy are still durable. Its importance has, however, been sustainability rising since the emergence of industrialization for technology has brought numerous advancements in the processing of and manufacturing of leather products that are highly essential for day-to-day uses. Industrial processing of leather and leather products was highly introduced in Eritrea in the late 19th century. Leaving the practices of making items made up of leather in the ancient times aside, let’s see its significance in the modern industrialized era as a source of hard currency.

In Eritrea, there are five turnery factories that have been engaged in processing of and manufacturing of leather products. Four of these factories are in Asmara and the other one is at Ghinda’e, in the Northern Red Sea region. These factories have been supplying processed leather to local as well as to global markets. According to Mr. Ghebremariam Hagos, Senior Expert of Marketing of Hides and Skins in the Ministry of Agriculture, Eritrea’s leather is of high quality and there is a high demand of it in the global market. As compared to leather supply of the countries in equatorial areas, Eritrea’s leather is highly preferred in global market for its content of collagen fiber. “Such content of collagen makes it very elastic and durable,” he said.

Efforts have been excreted to make Eritrea’s hide and skin products competitive in global market so as to increase hard currency incomes as much as possible. In doing so, a large supply of hides of good quality should be realized. The main task of the Ministry of Agriculture has, therefore, been in securing sufficient supply of hides through establishing viable working grounds among the suppliers, collectors and tannery factories.

Despite the endeavors that have been excreted to increase the supply of hides, there is still less supply of hides in some regions of the country due to lack of knowledge about the industrial importance of leather and its

Mr. Ghebremariam Hagos
products. Of the six regions of the country, the Central and Southern regions have been the major suppliers of hides. The Ministry of Agriculture has been working on ways of finding solutions to narrow the gabs between high demand and less supply of hides. These has been done through mechanisms of up grading people’s awareness so as to encourage them send hides of cattle, that has been peeled off, to the market within five hours and also to make due care in preserving and keeping hides as neat as possible. The Ministry also informs farmers and other hides suppliers in the remote areas of the country about the procedures that has to be followed during the course of drying the hides.

75% of the processed leather has been exported to the markets of Europe, China and Pakistan. All these factories have been exporting wet blue and pickle cattle hides to such markets. Bearing in mind that the row material could not generate good hard currency incomes, only processed leathers with added values has been exported to international markets. Mr. Ghebremariam said that in the 2011, around 3 million U.S dollars have been generated form leather sales. These leather products have been 5th or 6th level of standards, but the Ministry is looking ahead to upgrade the quality of processed leather to first or second level of standards. However, this could not be achieved with the endeavors of the ministry alone, but with the collaboration of the association of leather and leather products for they could easily identify which region’s hides are of poor quality and there by to find remedial solutions.

There is huge quantity of hides during holiday times, but there are delays in sending such huge supply to the market. To prevent any loses; Mr. Ghebremariam said that the Ministry has been giving work directives to the tannery factories to collect hides as soon as possible before it is too late.

Depending on the seasons, the prices of hides have a fluctuating nature, and there is also no standard scale through out the country. Hence, Mr. Ghebremariam said that the scaling process could be done with the assistance of an up-to-date standard scale of global prices obtained from the National Bank of Eritrea. 

Most of the time, hides of lambs has been thrown away for people takes it very small and useless. Hence, in the 2012, the Ministry of agriculture has charted out plans to conduct awareness rising programs in remote areas of the country. However, there should be integrated endeavors of individuals, tannery factories, the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Trade and Industries and other concerned parties so as to ensure Eritrea’s leather products are of high quality and gravity to international markets.

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