The COMESA Regional Integration Support Mechanism (RISM), with support from the Africa Leather and Leather Product Institute (ALLPI), has supported the leather sector in Madagascar by bringing various players in the to form a leather cluster known as GasySkin.
In addition, RISM has provided training to over 30 participants, including local artisans, in regional systems for the improved traceability of skins, the application of standards for value chains in leather, and the certification of leather products that are environmentally friendly.
Through this support the cluster has acquired leather tannery equipment for sewing, leather skiving, strip cutting, hydraulics plane cutting press machines, etc) valued at more than 100,000 Euros. This has raised awareness amongst leather workers, salespeople and tanners, leading to national cohesion among players in the leather value chain.
It has also triggered rising demands, the most significant being an order from India for 2,000 pieces each of 17 different leather items. The production of leather items is now projected to grow tenfold.
The RISM programme received funds from the European Union (EU) through the COMESA Adjustment Fund (CAF), and has provided financial support to Madagascar of more than 1.8 million Euros over the 2016-2020 period. An additional 500,000 Euros is expected in 2021.
Disbursement of the funds followed Madagascar’s government identifying the local leather sector as a cluster with great potential for producing quality goods at international and regional level and for creating much-needed employment opportunities in the country.
One of the main challenges identified by local stakeholders was the need for a national leather value chain strategy and better equipment and training on quality and standards that would facilitate exports to regional and international markets.
The ALLPI, a specialized institution of COMESA provided technical expertise to develop the leather value chain strategy for the country. The strategy will help to ensure that artisans meet market requirements, in terms of quality and standards.
As a logical continuation of the strategy, Madagascar’s Directorate General of Handicrafts (DGA) has included in its priority activities the standardization of the leather sector. This has been done by upgrading to COMESA and international standards, and also by making sure such standards adapt the specifications of Madagascar.
Under the latest support, it is programmed that in 2021, further leather processing equipment worth 150,000 Euros will be procured. This equipment will enable production of more diverse items, better designs, and more precise cutting of the raw leather.