Shipments of processed 492 tons of donkey meat and skin earned Ethiopia over USD 600,000 in exports during the just-ended fiscal year. Over 600 donkeys were slaughtered at the donkey abattoirs.
The export of donkey products this year wasn’t planned due to the ban by the government. Rhong Change, one of the two donkey slaughterhouses in Ethiopia and based in Asella, Oromia Regional State, then became the only source for exports. Another one in Bishoftu, Oromia Regional State, remained non-operational.
With the intervention of government and awareness creation programs in the community, the Chinese-based company Rhong Chang finally received the green light to continue operation, according to Debele Lemma, head of Meat and Dairy Industry Development Institute.
“The public understood the benefits and the job opportunities the company could create,” Debele said, explaining how the company started working back after seven years of shutdown. It was built with 60 million birr as capital and has the capacity of slaughtering 300 donkeys per day.
Discussions were in place initially among the community as the company first set its feet in Ethiopia to stop the live donkeys from being smuggled into Kenya.
With the capacity of slaughtering 200 donkeys a day, the other Chinese abattoir, Shang Dong, was established in 2009 in Bishoftu town, but it had to stop production in 2017 following a public protest and social media outcry.
About 14 meat exporters earned about USD 119 million, up from the planned USD 93 million during the last financial year. Most of the cattle meat exports were destined for Saudi Arabia and Dubai.
Pastoralists in bordering regions such as Guji, Borena, East and West Hararge, Somalia, and Afar prefer to send their cattle to neighboring countries for proximity rather than bringing them to the country’s center. As a result, the illegal trade is flourishing, according to Debele.
Due to the drought, the pastoralists were selling their cattle at lower prices, which later contributed to the growth in revenues from meat exports.
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