Ghanzi — The long awaited Lobatse leather park is almost a reality.
Speaking at a leather park breakfast seminar in Ghanzi recently, Mr Lesitamang Paya, who is the leather industry coordinator at LEA, said it was time to increase the breeding stock in order to harvest enough hides to supply the park.
Mr Paya, who is also a former director of the Department of Animal Production, said as 60 per cent of the raw materials for the leather park were hides, there was need to improve pastoral farming to meet demand.
He noted that quality hides would be needed, adding that livestock branding should be done with caution. He told farmers that the leather park would need 75 tonnes of hides per day. "We do not have this capacity now looking at the population of about 1.8 million cattle," he said.
Mr Paya said the number seemed impossible but that it was possible. "Assuming that we have one million breeding stock with a calving rate of 80 per cent, it means we would have 800 000 calves."
He also said the leather industry value chain would present ample opportunities, adding "imagine the number of jobs we could create looking at this number."
He noted that slaughter facilities would increase and that the leather would be chilled and transported in refrigerated trucks. Mr Paya also said there would be an exotic skill tannery to process crocodiles, ostriches and related hides.
He said the facility would be constructed near the Lobatse sewage ponds and that water from the ponds would be treated and used in the leather park. He added that the park would need two million litres of water a day. The water from tanneries, he said, would be reused to water a fodder production farm that would be created near the leather park.
Mr Paya also said there would be a secure landfill for hazardous solid waste from the park. He said they would meet next month to discuss when to kick-off construction, saying it would take at least one and a half years.
He expressed confidence on the project, adding "if Italy had managed, we also can do it."
He regretted delays in kick-starting the project, noting that the environmental impact assessment study took two years.
For her part, LEA Ghanzi branch manager, Ms Kgomotso Rabosielo, said her organisation had been given the mandate for the Lobatse leather park project.
Ms Rabosielo also said LEA was geared up to improve its services. She said in collaboration with CEDA, LEA was seeking to establish a fund to help in starting up businesses.