By Bernard Mpofu, HARARE, July 6 (The Source) – Zimbabwe has marginally lost its market share of reptile skin exports after it registered a six percent growth in 2014 against a world average of seven percent, figures obtained from the International Trade Centre (ITC) have shown.
According to the ITC, a joint agency of the World Trade Organisation and the United Nations, Zimbabwe, the world’s second largest exporter of crocodile skins exported reptile skins worth $24 million in 2014 becoming a distant second from the United States which exported skins worth $117 million.
The statistics also show that crocodile exports registered an average growth rate of 10 percent between 2010 and 2014 against a world average of 21 percent as the country lost its market share.
However, while the Southern African nation trails the world’s largest economy in terms of value and volumes, Zimbabwe enjoys a comparative advantage of distance to the largest market France. Official statistics show that the average distance of importing countries is 7869 km compared to 4,908 km of Zimbabwe.
France accounts for nearly a third of the $323 million worth of imported raw reptile skins.
Zimbabwe has the highest niloticus crocodile production accounting for 36 percent of the 250,000 animals bred in Southern Africa from 14 farms. About five farms account for 83 of the country’s crocodile production.
In 1992, the country had 47 crocodile farms.
This development comes at a time the country’s top crocodile skin exporter Padenga announced that it had reached full capacity and had no immediate plans to increase capacity due to high start-up costs.
In 2012, Padenga acquired a 50 percent stake in Texas-based Lone Star Alligator Farms in a deal that has made it one of the leading foreign currency earning firms in the country.