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«Subsector Assessment of the Nigerian Hides and Skins Industry Prepared by: Chemonics International Inc. 1133 20th Street NW Washington, DC 20036 ...»

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• The availability of land that is suitable for and can support livestock operation • Large domestic (industrial and food grades) market • Rich history of cattle production and processing (1940 – mid 1980’s) • Large population of farm animals – basic raw materials • Skin of Red Sokoto goat – premium in the international market • Rich experience in homestead keeping of animals and hides/skins processing • The existence of a highly professional and well-organized export sector • Access to hides and skins from neighboring countries with limited leather processing facilities.

• Availability of large pool of skillful individuals and groups in traditional tanning operations, which does not rely on chromic acid and other toxic chemicals • Large number of tanneries, which are successfully exporting high quality leather to the EU market • Existence of extensive and intensive leather products manufacture ring institutions • Local production of rubber and carbon black coupled with good experience in shoe sole production • Easy access to sea freight and export processing zones • Established trade connections with Italy and Spain with opportunities for widening the network • Trade Groups (i.e.,Tanneries Council) – Network that could drive intervention process.

B. Weaknesses

• Poor international trade image • Challenges arising from land acquisition and compensation to host communities • Unorganized raw materials sourcing • Problem of overgrazing by Red Sokoto goats, which is cherished for its good quality skins • Commercial cattle, sheep and goat rearing is limited • Cattle rearing done mainly by nomads

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C. Opportunities • The export skins and leather industry is huge, believed to be worth around $4.4 billion for raw hides and skins, $14 billion in rough-tanned and finished leathers of all types and $25 billion for footwear with leather uppers.

• Over the last two decades, the average growth in trade has been 3% for raw hides and skins, 10% for rough-tanned and finished leathers, and nearly 8% for footwear and leathers. In developing countries, however, the percentage growth in both rough-tanned products and footwear has been increasing at over 12% per year.

• There is a sizeable amount of fertile land that can support commercial agricultural ventures in all parts of the country.

• Leather products will contribute significantly to diversifying the foreign exchange earning capacity of the nation and reduce imports.

• Employment generated both on farm and off farm especially with value added processing of hides and skins into leather products for export.

• Large domestic and regional markets for the absorption of surplus leather products • Huge opportunities for value added processing of hides & skins • Extensive opportunities for investors (financial or materials) in Nigeria’s emerging fast food industry, food processing, animal breeding, tanneries, shoe manufacturing, etc., for value added processing to satisfy both domestic and international market.

D. Threats

• Competition from well established countries like China, India.

• Long-term environmental implications of uncontrolled industrial processing of hide and skins • Many communities and landowners are usually wary of government on land matters and as a result, land acquisition on commercial scale may be a major challenge.

• The grave practical difficulties of establishing a profitable processing sector in Africa, e.g.

low labor output, limited operating season, high interest rates, grading standards, lack of critical mass for different grades and new marketing channels.

–  –  –

Generally speaking, arable crop farmers also keep cattle as alternative source of income as they graze their animals on the stubs of their harvested crops. However, there are farmers who specialize in cattle production and see this as their main line of operation. There are several types of specialized operations in the cattle and sheep industry and these are briefly explained below.

Cattle farming could either be for beef or milk production. Feedlot operation is unique to the beef production industry while dairy operation is unique to milk production. However, cow-calf operation is common to both operations. In the case of feedlot operations, young animals (yearling steers and heifers) are herded in lots or pens and fed to market weight before they are slaughtered for beef. Steers and heifers for this purpose could be obtained from both dairy and beef operations.

A typical cow-calf operation is a cattle multiplication operation through well-planned breeding operations. It usually consists of proven cows and bulls, which are either mated naturally or through artificial inseminations. In the case of dairy operations, the purpose of mating is to get such cows to parturate without which milk production for human consumption cannot be realized. The bye products of the process are yearling, steers or heifers, which are either fed out for beef production or retained as replacement herd. A typical cow-calf operation designed for beef or milk operations basically produces proven progenies, which are usually fast growers and efficient feed converters, meant for the feedlots where they are finished for slaughtering as beef animals.





Sheep farming on the other hand, depending on location could either be for mutton or wool (or both) production. In the temperate regions, they are predominantly kept for wool production while in the tropics (Nigeria inclusive) they are kept for mutton production. Sheep farming is quite similar to cattle farming save that the end products are slightly different. Wool’s only utility value is with the textile industry. In the case of Nigeria, sheep are kept for mutton production and usually herded with cattle in a free-range management system.

Goat Farming is not usual in the temperate region, but is common in the tropics. Even then, goats hardly do well in confinement. The animal does extremely well on marginal soils and hilly locations. They are deep grazing animals, which even forage on the roots of grasses. The implication of which is over grazing with negative environmental consequences (erosion).

Generally speaking, goats require extensive land space and are largely free-ranged on hilly and marginally productive land. Goat rearing in Northern Nigeria (Red Sokoto) takes this form. In the South, goats (West African Dwarfs) are kept more as pets than for commercial purpose. Goat meat is highly cherished in the South and among the Asian and Middle East communities. Though its milk is acknowledged to be of better quality than cow milk, it is not clear where it is being commercially produced locally.

Ruminant livestock are raised for meat, milk and wool production and when slaughtered, hides are obtained as bye-products, as none of them is raised for this purpose. However, this by-product is of major economic value as a major industrial material used in the production of shoes and other leather products. Apart from this, it is a well-appreciated delicacy in Southern Nigeria both by the rich and poor. The diagram on the next page provides graphical details on the various operations encompassed in the cattle and sheep industry.

–  –  –

Animal skin becomes leather through a number of complicated steps. First, the majority of animals are slaughtered for the meat, so the skin is of secondary importance. To stop it putrefying, i.e. decaying, the skin must be preserved. This is done by adding common salt to the skins and piling them on a pallet. The salt kills the bacteria involved in the putrefying process.

Once preserved, the skin is taken to a tannery where the hair and any remaining flesh have to be removed. The skin is then soaked in water to re-hydrate it and remove the salt. It is then fleshed on a machine to remove lumps of flesh, dung, etc. Hair is removed by treating the skin in a drum with sodium sulfide and calcium hydroxide (lime). The sulfide attacks the keratin in the hair and dissolves it. The reaction only occurs at alkaline pH, which is why the lime is added. This process is called liming. Once the hair has been removed (after 16 hours), the pH is then reduced.

This process is called de-liming and it involves pumping in Carbon dioxide into the drum while it is turning. Carbon dioxide is an acidic gas and it has the characteristics of lowering pH to about 7. At this point enzymes are added to clean out the remaining proteins, which are not required. All that the tanner wants is collagen. The other skin proteins such as Elastin and Keratin have to be removed. This is known as the bating process.

After bating, the skin is pickled in the same way as you would pickle onions, using salt and vinegar. In this case salt and sulfuric acid are used, but the principle is the same. This does two things: it preserves the skin again and gets the collagen ready for tanning, the most important step. Tanning the collagen stops it from putrefying forever. If the skin is left in the salted state, it would eventually putrefy and of course, unusable for wear. Once tanned, the skin can be worn.

Tanning is done in drums with aqueous solutions. The usual tanning agent is Chromium (III) salts. These give the skin stability against heat, light, perspiration etc., and make the skin moldable and useable. It is possible to use the skin, depending on its source, for anything from gloves to industrial belts, car upholstery to the finest shoes; all are processed in the same way.

After tanning, which takes a few hours, the skin is a light blue color. It is then put through a wringer to remove excess water and then re-tanned, dyed fat-liquored and finished. Re-tanning modifies the properties of the leather to suit the conditions of use while dyeing changes the color to desired color. Fat liquoring adds fats and oils to the skin. In the previous processes all the natural fat is lost, so the skin, if dried, would dry hard. Fat liquoring makes the skin soft. The skin is then dried and finished by adding a protective coat to stop it from getting dirty, etc. The process from beginning to the end takes about 2 weeks, if done continuously.

Usually though, the batch process is done in stages with the skin being left until needed for an order, etc. Figure 15: Mario Jose Tannery: An export oriented tannery located in Kano.

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The leather that is sold in stores is not naturally tanned. It is usually chemically tanned with chromic acids. These acids are very cheap to use but unfortunately are quite toxic and make inferior leather. One can make soft, washable leather with emulsified oils and wood-smoke. This is commonly known as brain, smoke or Indian tanning. Animal brains are traditionally used as the source of emulsified oils; hence the name, but one can also use eggs or a mixture of soap and oil. Brain tan is ideal for clothing, bags, beadwork and other items such as shoelaces, potholders, hair ties, etc. Hides can also be tanned by soaking them in tannic acids derived from tree barks and certain plants. This is known as bark tan. Bark tan makes a stiff, solid leather that is useful for saddles, holsters and stiff bags.

–  –  –

Before independence, Nigeria’s economy was largely sustained through agricultural exports.

Major industries such as Unilever Plc, Paterson Zochonis Plc, etc., depended on agricultural raw materials from Nigeria and other Commonwealth nations in the tropics and export trade in agricultural commodities accounted for over 60% of Nigeria’s export earnings. Apart from this, the sector also accounted for a similar proportion of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and it was the largest source of employment. In the 1970s and 1980s, a combination of increasing petroleum oil production and rising prices brought easy and windfall earnings, which diverted Nigeria’s attention and encouraged the neglect of agricultural exports. The country invariably lost its competitive advantage in certain commodities, which it painstakingly established.

While one cannot blame agricultural neglect alone for the nation’s dwindling export trade in agricultural commodities, other factors such as increase in industrial activities in the country, government policies on local value added commodity processing, finance, pricing, etc., have all contributed to the weakening of the nation’s capacity to participate effectively in the commodity export trade. Over the years, there have been different agricultural policies targeted at improving the performance of the agricultural sector and reviving export trade in semi-processed

agricultural commodities. These policies focused mainly on:

- Provision of self-sufficiency in food and raw materials for industries;

- Improvement of the socio-economic welfare of rural people engaged in agriculture; and

- Diversification of the sources of foreign exchange earnings through increased agricultural exports arising from adoption of appropriate technologies in food production and distribution While the policies are sound, until the recent return to democratic governance, the will and strategies to implement them had largely been absent during years of military rule. The emergence of democracy required the institutionalization of civil governance structures and the revival of the productive value-adding sector of the economy, which is so strategic in addressing the multifaceted socio-economic problems confronting the nation.

Nigeria plays a strategic role in the stability of sub-Saharan Africa and the challenges associated with rebuilding the economy of such a huge nation whose economy had been mismanaged and ravaged as a result of poor governance are enormous.

The United States Government through its Agency for International Development (USAID) is assisting the Nigerian Government and its people rebuild the socio-economic and political structures of the nation. Accordingly, a strategic plan, which focused on five strategic goals, was

developed. These strategic goals are to:

a. Sustain Nigeria’s transition to democratic governance;

b. Strengthen Nigeria’s institutional capacity for economic reform and enhance its capacity to revive agricultural growth;

c. Develop the foundation for education reform;

–  –  –



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