The Government has dismissed any suggestions that they could tap into the rising donkey meat market in Chinese.
In recent years, there’s been a huge, rising demand for donkey hides in China, where they are used to make an ancient health-related product called ejiao. Ejiao is made from collagen that’s been extracted from donkey hides mixed with herbs and other ingredients to create medicinal and health consumer products. It’s believed to have properties that strengthen the blood, stop bleeding and improve the quality of both vital fluids and sleep.
Ejiao sells for about US$783 per kilo and the Chinese market for it has increased from about US$3.2 billion in 2013 to about US$7.8 billion in 2020. The demand for ejiao has led to a shortage of donkeys in China and increasingly worldwide. Countries in Africa have been particularly affected.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture Nancy Chengeta told this publication that there are no plans to resume exportation of donkey products to China after it was halted due to the bad animal welfare practice.
“There are no plans to export donkey hides to China and you will remember that at some point government took a decision to halt the arrangement because of how China slaughtered these donkeys and that did not comply with our livestock practices,” she said.
Chengeta also stated that local farmers have also not approached government with an effort to lobby government to allow them to export donkey hides.
“We have not been approached by local farmers and at this point there is nothing compelling us to bend to Chinese demand for donkeys,” stated Chengeta.
She further said one of the contributing factors triggering them against exportation is the low population of donkeys in the country.
“Whoever local farmer approaches government with an ambition, an export permit can be arranged but as for government to take the lead and encourage citizens to export donkey hides, no that can never because that will mean setting up of donkey abattoir,” added Chengeta.
Chengeta also highlighted that pursuing exportation of donkey hides will be an expensive exercise adding that it is a matter that deserves thorough analysis.
“As government we have not even gone into the issue because we do not have data and research on it and it was just an initiative that somebody did by then,” stated Chengeta.
She also said previously when there was arrangement for donkey hides export, it was done by Chinese who reside locally.
“As government we cannot stop anybody from exportation but it will have to be justified because what we see cannot be considered enough to be exported,” said Chengeta.
In 2017 The Ministry spokesperson Geoffrey Pheko said the government had “noted with concern the indiscriminate and cruel slaughter of donkeys for their hides which are exported to markets in Asia.”
“In this regard, issuance of all export licenses relating to donkeys and their products for export purposes is suspended indefinitely with immediate effect,” said Pheko
Pheko urged farmers to “stay vigilant, keep a close eye on the donkeys and report any suspicious illegal trade on live donkey, donkey meat and donkey hides to the nearest government officials”.