THE Zambia Crocodile Farmers Association (ZaCFA) says there is a marked turn around in the industry following the removal of the 10 percent export duty imposed on raw crocodile skins in the 2021 Budget.
Association spokesperson and Kalimba Farms chairman Bill Thomas said the development is a clear demonstration that increased revenue comes from growth and not duties.
“What would really help the industry now would be the repayment of approved VAT refunds to inject much needed working capital,” Mr Thomas added.
He said the industry is confident the positive changes show that things are on the increase.
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.
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 percent, 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 percent.
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 three 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,” said Mr Thomas.