Moshi — A MEMBER of the National Hides, Skins and Leather Advisory Committee (NHSLAC), Mr Sabbas Woiso has earnestly cautioned Tanzanians to be vigilant and differentiate between artificial and pure leather goods lest they are cheated.
Mr Woiso, who is also the Director of Himo Tanners and Planters Limited (HTPL) located at Himo Town in Moshi District, said East African regional market has become a dumping area of artificial leather goods and unsuspecting customers were not aware of that.
"It is a pity that some leaders have not bothered to educate their subjects on the presence of such goods and ways of differentiating between artificial and pure leather goods," he lamented.
Mr Woiso noted that much as his firm has penetrated international markets by exporting wet-blue leather to China, India and Pakistan, some overseas pure leather importers reciprocate by selling artificial leather goods to the regional market while retaining pure leather products in their local markets.
The HTPL Director observed that the scenario was against the Hides, Skin and Leather Trade Act of 2008 and NHSLAC whose functions are, among others, to advise the Minister on policies and other matters relating to hides, skins and leather industry as well as on matters pertaining to production, processing and marketing of hides,skins and leather.
He also revealed that plans were afoot to raise status of HTPL to a middle class category, adding that his firm started producing wet-blue leather in 2007 following successful production of vegetable tanning in 2003 and the goods were supplied to hospitals and individual cobblers.
Mr Woiso said his firm was set to expand to meet growing needs and to achieve that drums and a finishing unit will be purchased.HTPL was launched in 1895 by European settlers and later disposed of the same to some Indian traders who in turn sold the dilapidated structure and machinery to three Woiso brothers who had to invest heavily to its overhaul and rehabilitation in 2002.
Currently, there are seven leather industries in Tanzania, two based in Moshi district, and one each located in Arusha, Morogoro, Kibaha, Mbagala and Mwanza.