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Leather and leather products are Sudan’s leading export earners. However, Dr. Abdel-Rahman Al-Asyouti, an industry expert and chemist at the country's Tanning Institute has said in an interview with local media that the leather industry in Sudan has declined and needs government support to restructure.
Dr Al-Asyouti says that a number of problems have contributed to the deterioration of Sudanese leather and leather products industries in recent years.
He said that there was a good start for tanning industry in Sudan as the government realised the value of leather as an export earner and hence decided to construct the Khartoum Tannery followed by additional tanneries in White Nile and Madani using French technology with the aim to export 70% of the production. The government also set up a technical centre to provide training on slaughtering and skinning.
“There were the Khartoum tannery, Afro-Tana, Afro-Star and Omdurman Tannery, which all had a good start but unfortunately they all deteriorated and most have ceased operations now due to economic and political instability, a lack of ambition and a lack of qualified personnel to carry out operations in a professional way”, says Dr Al-Asyouti.
In an interview with Sudan Vision Daily he said there is a need for government intervention to supply support starting with slaughter and skinning, leather making and leather product manufacture. He says the government should help support the importation of new machinery and supervise via restructuring the board of directors the existing tanneries. He also said that the government should also conduct a case study looking at the Gezira Tannery for example, to understand why it ceased operations and learn the lessons.
The government should also set up mechanisms to prevent the smuggling of raw hides into neighbouring countries, which is a major problem for local tanners.