By Wallace Mawire
|Zambia’s first new crocodile farm for over 20 years in pipeline By Wallace Mawire A new crocodile farm for over 20 years is going to be opened in Zambia, a sign of the benefits of duty removal in the industry, according to Bill Thomas, spokesperson for the Zambia Crocodile Farmers Association (ZaCFA) and Kalimba Farms Chairperson. |
According to Thomas, this will be the first new farm in Zambia for over 20 years, and as start-up costs are large with little anticipated return for over three years, he said that it shows there is now new confidence in the future of the crocodile industry in the country.
The association says that the main reason for growing a crocodile is for the skin, but there are by-products such as meat and oil, and it is reported that sales of these have continued to grow within the local Zambian crocodile market.
The Chairperson has also hinted on plans to open a tanning operation which are reported to be at an advanced stage and trials are reported to have been undertaken.
“We are now confident that this operation will be fully functioning by the end of 2021 which will give value addition to the raw materials prior to export,” Mr Thomas said. He added that the Zambia Crocodile Farmers Association is confident that the industry has turned around following the removal of the 10% export duty imposed on raw crocodile skins in the country’s 2021 Budget.
It is added that although the overall number of skins exported in 2020 declined slightly compared with the 2019 figures, this has been mainly due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the luxury leather market. Exports are also said to have been also negatively affected by international inspectors not being able to travel to grade the skins due to travel restrictions.
The association also adds that employment numbers in the country’s crocodile industry have also increased by 28%, with the addition of an extra 176 jobs since the removal of the duty at the start of 2021.
In addition, it is reported, that the gross payments to government agencies have increased by just over 37%
“This is a clear demonstration that increased revenue comes from growth and not duties,” Mr Thomas said.
“What would really help the industry now would be the repayment of approved VAT refunds to inject much needed working capital,” he added.
The Zambia Crocodile Farmers Association is an industry association falling under the Zambia National Farmers Union.
Members rear Nile crocodiles, with skins sold globally for use in the luxury footwear, handbags and garment sectors. Meat and other by-products are sold locally.
The industry exported 31,685 skins in 2018, down from a recent high of 60,422 in 2015. More than 600 workers are employed. Mr Thomas said that the location of the proposed new farm was still under discussion. Also the proposed tannery is expected to sell top grade skins to Singapore and Italy and finish the lower grades for other world markets. It is reported that the most likely site for the tannery will be Kafue in Zambia.