Lusaka, Zambia (February 12, 2021) – The Zambia Crocodile Farmers Association (ZaCFA) "is quietly confident" that the industry has turned around following the removal of the 10% export duty imposed on raw crocodile skins in the 2021 Budget, according to association spokesperson and Kalimba Farms chairman Bill Thomas.
Although the overall number of skins exported in 2020 declined slightly compared with the 2019 numbers, this was mainly due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the luxury leather market, he said. Exports were also negatively affected by international inspectors not being able to travel to grade the skins due to travel restrictions.
Employment numbers in the industry have also increased by 28%, with the addition of an extra 176 jobs since the removal of the duty at the start of this year.
In addition, 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,” he said.
“What would really help the industry now would be the repayment of approved VAT refunds to inject much needed working capital.”
A further sign of the benefits of the duty removal is a plan for a new crocodile farm to be opened. 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 3 years, it shows there is now new confidence in the future of the industry.
The main reason for growing a crocodile is for the skin, but there are by-products such as meat and oil, and sales of these have continued to grow within the local market.
Plans to open a tanning operation are also at an advanced stage and trials 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,” he said.
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.