Zambia’s crocodile farmers poised to upscale investment
Published: 22nd May 2020
Lusaka, Zambia – Zambia’s crocodile farmers are poised to upscale investment, production and exports of skins following government’s intervention to suspend the 10% export duty on the industry.
The removal of the 10% duty on crocodile skins has made some positive impact on the viability of the crocodile business, says the Zambia Crocodile Farmers Association (ZaCFA).
The farmers who survived the negative financial impact of the 10% export duty and who are still in operation, now hope to focus on improving the quality of the skins, increase their capacity, and upgrade and create facilities to enable local value addition for the local and international markets.
Historically crocodiles have been seen as a pest and dangerous in rural communities. But Zambian farmers have turned the crocodiles into a renewable resource that earns the country foreign exchange revenue and creates jobs in rural communities.
“The Zambian crocodile industry has the potential to lead the world market. In the value-chain, crocodile skins benefit the manufacturing, agriculture and tourism sectors,” said association spokesperson and Kalimba Farms chairman Bill Thomas.
“The industry supports non-traditional exports and renewable agriculture exports. The crocodile industry has huge potential to position Zambia as a global power in the farming and supply of crocodile skins. Zambian farmers already supply crocodile skins to leather companies like Louis Vuitton, Gucci and many big international fashions brands,” he added.
“Government’s support and positive promotion of this renewable industry is crucial, and similar to other industries, the repayment of long outstanding VAT claims would be extremely beneficial, but we understand that with the COVID-19 pandemic it would be difficult to expect too much at this time,” he said.
Among the initiatives to boost local processing and production, ZaCFA is exploring ways to set up a tannery or cooperate with an existing tannery that will build the local manufacturing base of value-added leather products.
“The tannery will employee more people and increase revenue locally,” said association member Johann Jordaan.
“We have permanent employees, seasonal workers as well as local contractors that we hire on our farms. Workers on the farms also receive very detailed training on how to handle, understand and live alongside crocodiles,” he added.
And member Suresh Desai said that Zambia has potential to become a crocodile farming power in the world.
“All our lakes and rivers are full of crocodiles and it is very easy for farmers to get started by applying to the Department of National Parks and Wildlife for the collection of eggs or alternatively, the capturing of problem crocodiles from the wild for use as breeding stock and start farm production.”
Crocodile farms play an important role in the Zambian communities. Problem crocodiles are captured from the wild, lessening human-wildlife conflict.
The crocodile industry supports and employs people from rural communities, with some farmers having built clinics, churches and education facilities, for example.
“We have adhered to our social corporate responsibilities through skills training, social development, environmental protection and employment creation. All the farms are employing veterinary nurses, and training a lot more people to ensure that skills development is there and continues,” said Desai.