An­i­mal hides ‘abuse’ irks leather pro­duc­ers

Lesotho Times - - Business - Retha­bile Pitso

LEATHER works pro­duc­ers have be­moaned the short­age of an­i­mal hides, call­ing on Ba­sotho to learn how to prop­erly pre­serve them so as to gen­er­ate in­come by sell­ing them.

Rose Leather Works Manager Mate­boho Mathi­beli and busi­ness­man Mo­jalefa Rasephei, who man­u­fac­ture an ar­ray of leather prod­ucts from pig and sheep hides, told the Le­sotho Times this week that they have to scrounge for their raw ma­te­ri­als since most peo­ple dis­card them af­ter slaugh­ter­ing the beasts.

Ms Mathi­beli co-owns a Maseru-based com­pany that pro­duces wool and leather prod­ucts such as ladies’ hand­bags, travel bags, morn­ing slip­pers and mo­bile phone pouches among oth­ers.

Mr Rasephei owns a tan­nery in Mazenod spe­cial­is­ing in sheep leather pro­cess­ing. The com­pany sup­plies wool to such com­pa­nies as Rose Leather Works and oth­ers in the area.

Ac­cord­ing to Ms Mathi­beli, there is a dearth of knowl­edge among com­mu­ni­ties about the proper preser­va­tion of an­i­mal skins and hides, which has re­sulted in a short­age of raw ma­te­ri­als.

“Our com­mu­ni­ties still lack knowl­edge re­gard­ing the benefits of an­i­mal hides, skins and horns which are used to pro­duce a host of prod­ucts such as morn­ing slip­pers, hand­bags, travel bags as well as other ac­ces­sories,” said Ms Mathi­beli.

“The cat­tle horns can also be used to mak­ing ladies ear­rings; prod­ucts from which peo­ple can earn a living for them­selves. How­ever, the ram­pant dis­card­ing of our raw ma­te­ri­als has made our work very dif­fi­cult as they are be­com­ing harder to find.”

She added that many lu­cra­tive op­por­tu­ni­ties awaited com­mu­ni­ties will­ing to trade in leather prod­ucts, as the in­dus­try is not only easy to ven­ture into, but is also en­vi­ron­men­tally-friendly.

“When some of us for­ayed into this busi­ness as small traders, we did not an­tic­i­pate that there would be this much po­ten­tial, but we have come to learn a lot of things re­gard­ing the in­dus­try,” Ms Mathi­beli said. “The busi­ness has a re­cy­cling ef­fect as it en­sures the re-use of what is re­garded as waste by many.”

Mr Rasephei also echoed Ms Mathi­beli’s sen­ti­ments, de­scrib­ing the han­dling of an­i­mal hides within com­mu­ni­ties as an “injustice”.

“I wish there was a way gov­ern­ment would in­ter­cept peo­ple who still throw an­i­mal hides in tombs dur­ing buri­als. I shud­der to think how many cat­tle hides are be­ing dis­carded ev­ery week­end when buri­als take place in the coun­try,” said Mr Rasephei.

“I would sug­gest to peo­ple who still do not see the use of an an­i­mal hide to, at least, con­sider bring­ing it to the tan­nery for us to tan it for them.”

He also called on stake­hold­ers, in­clud­ing gov­ern­ment, to aug­ment their sup­port for the sec­tor by se­cur­ing lu­cra­tive mar­kets for lo­cal prod­ucts.

ROSE Leather Works Manager Mate­boho Mathi­beli holds some of the wool and leather cush­ions she pro­duces.

ROSE Leather Works pro­duces morn­ing slip­pers and ladies’ hand­bags.

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